The Kentucky Cycle

The Kentucky Cycle by Robert Schenkkan
venue: Iowa Summer Repertory
date: June, July 1993
Director: Eric Forsythe

Iowa Summer Repertory traditionally performs the work of one playwright each season. The 1993 season featured the work of Robert Schenkkan. This production premiered prior to the official Broadway production. I designed the costumes for both parts of The Kentucky Cycle at Iowa with the playwright in residence.

The plays depict realistic representations of characters from 1775 to 1975 over the course of two evenings. An ensemble of actors play multiple roles in nine different plays: five in cycle one and four in cycle two. I approached the design treating the actors as actors putting on roles. Therefore a uniform costume was created that was more a reflection of the particular evening. In cycle one, textures were heavier and rougher (a more roughhewn society and culture and characters) and colors were warm earth tones (vitality, strength and survival of the characters). In cycle two the textures and fabrics were more refined (representing an evolution into a more civilized and organized community) and colors were cooler (suggesting a more depleted and resigned community). To help actors and audience, pieces were added to suggest or change the ideas of a particular character keeping it as simple as possible and constantly reminding the audience that these are actors and they are watching a play. Many of these changes were worked out with the director and actors during the rehearsal process.