Harvey Essay, Research Paper

Theater 310November 22, 1998 HARVEY The objectives of costume design were sufficiently met to meet the needs of the play. All the characters represented people in their natural positions in life with a little more accentuation that is often necessary in theater productions. The costumes aided in elaborating on each characters station in life and time period in which the play took place, which are a few objectives of costume designing. Most often one can distinguish a person s station in life from their appearance. The costume designer chose attire that clearly emphasized what each characters position in life would be. Vita Louise was clearly a mother coming from a wealthy background. Her dresses were all finely tailored with delicate designs of rhinestones and beads, a type of dress that would only be worn by the upper class. The shape and style of the dress was idealistic for an adult woman. The sleeves were long, the neckline showing off some cleavage, and the skirt was flowing past the knees. Her costumes made her look sexy but respectable. Her daughter, Myrtle, was dressed with the same appropriateness, however, for a young woman. Myrtle s dresses had shorter lines, shorter sleeves, and showed less of her flesh. Her necklines were high, giving the impression that she is without a man. Her sleeves were short perhaps to enhance a male s attention. She showed a little skin but not too much. Her dresses also had intricate designs of rhinestones and beads signifying an upper class young woman. Their aunt, Mrs. Chauvenet, was perhaps the most extravagant woman of the play. She was doused in fur from hat to coat and also had intricate designs on her dress. She was obviously coming from upper class. One could not but notice her huge ring on her gloved hand. Her entire ensemble of fur, diamonds, and fine dress all represented excellence which can only the rich can acquire. Mrs. Chumley also dressed in such a way as to signify that she is the doctor s wife and can dress the part. She too had intricate designs on her fine dress, had a fur coat, and diamonds in her ears and hair. There were other women in the play, which were dressed in stereotypical fashion to give an exact impression of their station in life. The maid and the nurse were in costumes that even women of today s world would be found wearing. It was not difficult to figure out who they were by their appearances. The men of the play were all dressed in similar fashions to clearly distinguish where their station in life took place. Elwood was properly dressed in a three-piece suit signifying a dignified man of wealth. A man of high stature could have only afforded his brown suit with timepiece. Both Dr. Chumley and Dr. Sanderson were outfitted in costumes typical of doctors. There was no question as to their station in life. It was apparent that Dr. Chumley was the prominent doctor due to his longer lab coat. When the men were dressed in their suits they all looked like distinguished gentlemen. Dr. Chumley, Dr. Sanderson, and Judge Gaffney all wore various types of suits that exemplified the stations in life that they held, those of prominent businessmen. Wilson s costume as a caretaker in a mental hospital was quite obvious. He was dressed in an all white jacket and pants. As for E.J., the taxicab driver, his station in life was obvious with the help of his baret that most cab drivers of those days wore.

The costumes were typical clothing attire that men and women wore in the early days of the nineteenth century. Women were often found wearing dresses with elaborate designs hand sewn on the collar, sleeves, and body of the dress. They quite often wore many accompaniments such as hats, coats, gloves, pocketbooks, and jewelry of fine quality. All the women in this play, excluding the maid and nurse, adorned themselves with these qualities, giving the audience member the impression that they had taken a step back in time. The men were also dressed in similar fashion as to give the impression that the play was taking place in a different time other than the present. Aside from the caretaker, the men of the play wore suits or outfits representative of the early nineteen century. Their suits were dull in color and simplistic which was characteristic of those days. Today we find more elaborate styled suits with embellishments and bright colors. Most men of those days also wore accompaniments with their outfits, such as top hats, over coats, and timepieces. Elwood carried with him a top hat and wore a timepiece, as did Judge Gaffney. The costumes in Harvey were wonderfully representative of the characters stations in life and the time period of the play. It is necessary for the costume designer to be able to create the characters of the play in such a way that corresponds with the plays theme and time period. This costume designer enabled the audience to interpret, from what the characters were wearing, who the characters were and what time period the play took place.

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