Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
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Those who stand in the spotlight on stage as the curtain is raised owe much to the talents and hard work of the many who make that moment possible. This interview is one installment in a series of interviews with South Florida professionals in non-performing theatre careers. Hopefully, these interviews will serve not only to illuminate and entertain, but to inspire those with a love of theatre to explore the possibilities some of these careers might hold for them. Truly "a life in the theatre" need not be one that is lived only on stage.
Costume Designer Estela Vrancovich has been working as a Costumer in South Florida for seven years, designing for theatre, dance, circus and acrobatic companies. She was honored with a Curtain Up Award for her work on the Hollywood Playhouse production of Ruthless in 2007, and the New Theater's Sustained Artistic Achievement Award in 2005. She has also received numerous Carbonell Award and Curtain Up Award nominations. In 2006 Estela joined the Theater Department at the New World School of the Arts in Miami where she is a Costumer for their MainStage productions, and a Makeup and Stagecraft teacher.
John Lariviere: What does a Costume Designer do? What are the differences between a Costume Designer, a Wardrobe Person and a Dresser?
Estela Vrancovich: A Costumer designs costumes based on ideas, concepts, inspirations and/or storylines, etc. . A Wardrobe Person takes care of the costumes, from the costume shop to back stage, inventories and keeps everything clean and in order. A Dresser helps the actors backstage with their changes, and works hand in hand with the Wardrobe Person.
JL: What are the differences between theatrical and fashion design? Is there a difference between designing for stage versus film?
EV: The way people dress at any given moment in a social context are manifestations of "fashion" and/or what is "trendy". This depends directly on many different factors, ranging from history, culture, social interaction, etc. . Costuming has the same definition, but the difference is that it's directly tied to the story being told and can be taken out of context and given many interpretations or formats (depending on the character of the production).
JL: What made you go into costume design for the stage?
EV: I graduated as a fashion designer with a degree in Fashion Design and Costuming, but after a while I realized that I wanted to do costuming, and that is what I have been doing ever since.
JL: What experience/training do you have that has best prepared you for this?
EV: I studied and investigated many different fields. I was exposed to diverse training, ranging from working with artisans to great Costumers and Fashion Designers. In Argentina I worked with Paco Jamandreu (Designer for First Lady Eva Peron and many of film actresses of the golden era), Angel Lagarrigue and others. I specialized in Tango Costuming for Stage in Buenos Aires, and created Maria Burgos Indumentaria, a fully integrated school of Fashion and Costuming with a four year studies program. I came to Miami in 1998 and started working at Actor's Playhouse. I later became independent, and as a freelancer I have worked in many professional theaters in South Florida.
JL: What are your greatest challenges and greatest rewards as a costume designer? How do you balance your vision with that of the director?
EV: I like to give my own interpretation to every project, and I think that each production should be new and refreshing. That in itself is the greatest challenge. As a Costumer in the theater department of the New World School of the Arts, I acquire my greatest rewards by working in a fully creative environment, and by sharing experiences with future performers and a team of great designers and technicians. I think that is as good as it gets in this field. As for balancing my vision with that of the director, I am a good listener and a great communicator. So, if the director is willing, wonderful things can be created as a team.
JL: Do you have any stories of the most enjoyable and/or most difficult productions on which you have worked?
EV: Enjoyable is the first dress rehearsal when all the aspects of the production are environmentally cohesive, and the costume unifies with the actor, and becomes the character. Difficult productions are the ones when the creative team has not or can't arrive at a unified vision, also and most important are budgetary issues.
JL: What are your professional goals for the future?
EV: I want to continue working as a costumer, while expanding in as many areas as possible. I really like costuming for dance and opera as well as for theatre.