DIVERSITY STATEMENT MERIT 2017-18
Professor Maggie Morgan
My costume design work in this review period includes several projects with diverse casts and creative collaborators. The subject matter of these innovative theatre, film and digital media productions explores the social issues of race, identity, and LGBT rights. My artistic objective is always to help tell the stories visually and create fully rounded characters of all backgrounds and orientations while supporting the emotions and intentions of the story.
IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU (2016) at Center Repertory Company directed by Marc Jacobs. A new Broadway musical comedy dealing with the issue of gay relationships and same-sex marriage. The original script predates the legalization of gay marriage nationwide so minor updates were made to make sense with the change in the law.
DED! (2015) was produced by Bootleg Theatre at the Matrix Theatre, Los Angeles. This show was created and directed by (and starring) Carlos Lopez-Estrada and Cristina Berkovitz. The theme of the afterlife was explored and the aesthetic style was based on the Day of the Dead traditions of Mexico. Lopez-Estrada is a winner of a Latin Grammy Award for Music Video direction.
SEND ME: An Original Web Series (2015-6) This is a web series produced by True Distance, LLC. It was created by Steven Harper, an African American, award-winning playwright and television writer. Directed by Phil Kauffman and Phyllis Bancroft, an African-American woman director, and produced in part by comedian Chris Rock. This series featured a mostly African-American cast starring Tracie Thoms who delivered an Emmy-nominated performance. The provocative story includes time travel back to slavery. Themes of race and identity are examined within the framework of American history, slavery and contemporary views on racial politics. This show reached a wide audience with 1.66 million views on BET.com and got attention in the mainstream press such as the Los Angeles Times.
CAR DOGS is an independent feature film released in 2017 and is a contemporary dramedy and a day-in-the-life story of an Arizona car dealership. This film was shot with a Screen Actors Guild “Diversity in Casting” contract and features a large cast with many actors of color in major and minor roles including George Lopez, Octavia Spencer, Cory Hardrick, Eugene Kim, Reza Mir, Victor Togunde, Ricardo Solorio- Ramirez, and Jeremy Gillett.
For both of my practical costume design classes I utilize scripts featuring diverse casts of characters and writers of diverse backgrounds.
DRA/CTS 124E COSTUME DESIGN FOR FILM – I assign the students to do the costume designs for a short film titled SPIRAL. This screenplay, by writer/director Juliette Carrillo, features an international cast of characters from Mexico, Russia and an African-American man.
Material presented on current designers and their body of work including Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka, African American designer Ruth Carter.
DRA 124D – COSTUME DESIGN FOR THEATRE - I assign students to do the costume designs for WEDDING BAND – by Alice Childress, an African American woman playwright. This drama’s subject matter deals with interracial marriage and relationships, bigotry towards Blacks, Jews, and German immigrants during WWI.
Reading includes interviews with current theatre, dance and film artists including African American designer Paul Tazewell.
In my survey courses I feature design work by a diverse group of theatre and film artists and designers.
DRA 24 - VISUAL ASPECTS OF DRAMATIC ART is a large survey course on design for the performing arts. In 2016 I invited a guest speaker, Angie Kahler, associate costume designer for the Broadway musical Hamilton. The show features a diverse group of actors portraying the founding fathers of the United States. Ms. Kahler was able to shed light on the process of developing the show and particularly the costuming of the smash hit musical which was designed by Paul Tazewell, an African American designer who won the Tony Award for his work on the show.
DRA/CTS 116 – DESIGN ON SCREEN: The Art of Costume Design. This is a new large lecture course taught for the first time in 2015 which reaches a diverse student body. The subject matter and course objectives include a survey of noted individual costume designers, general history of American costume design for cinema, an understanding of how to appreciate and analyze various forms of costumes in their historical and socio-cultural contexts, as well as an understanding of the history, theory, and characteristics of various aesthetic modes of design. Understanding of the various means and methods of creating costume designs for characters on screen, aesthetic approaches and concepts studied in the context of classic, modern and period films and shows primarily in the American cinema and television.
Screened films of interest include Priscilla – Queen of the Desert with the subject matter of the gay and transgender community in Australia (Oscar winner for costume design), The Chinese film Raise the Red Lantern designed by Huamaio Tong, and the Italian produced film The Last Emperor (Oscar winner for costume design), about Pu Yi, the final emperor of China. Profiles of diverse designers include Oscar nominated Ruth Carter - African American costume designer nominated for the films Malcolm X and Amistad, Oscar winner for costume design Japanese designer Eiko Ishioka, and Latino designer Salvador Perez.
In 2015 I screened the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. It is lauded as an influential film in the area of costume design and fashion and was designed by Edith Head with additional designs for Audry Hepburn by Hubert de Givenchy. The film contains a problematic yellow-face portrayal of a Japanese character by Caucasian film star Mickey Rooney. To encourage discussion about the topic of racially insensitive casting and Hollywood’s use of racial stereotypes I showed the companion documentary Mr. Yunioshi: An Asian Perspective and the assigned reading included the article "We need to talk about Mr. Yunioshi." In 2016, for various reasons, I replaced Breakfast at Tiffany’s with The Last Emperor. I continued to discuss the designs for Breakfast at Tiffany’s and assigned the materials regarding the character Mr. Yunioshi.
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