Godspell – William Peace University – October, 2012
Director: Kenny Gannon. Costume Design: Laura Parker. Set Design: Sonya Drum. Lighting Design: Jenni Becker. Sound Design: Stevan Dupor.
Everyday people, finding community – that was the concept behind the costume design for William Peace University’s production of ‘Godspell’. The set, designed by Sonya Drum, was based off of the High Line in New York City. A place where people from all walks of life gather together, a likely place for people to find inspiration to build community.
I spent a lot of time watching people in public places, seeing what sorts of people interact with each other – and, more importantly, what sorts of people don’t interact with each other. The impetus for them to create this community is their love for Jesus and his (well, her, in our production) teachings – that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are people who would normally gravitate towards each other. I pulled together students, doctors, businessmen, soldiers, hippies, and the homeless to create this odd little community.
I’ve always pictured Judas as a passionate revolutionary – one who believes with such fervor, but still feels like he knows what’s for the best. Judas’ ‘Che Jesus’ t-shirt is a mix of the classic Jesus icon with the image of Che Guevara, mixing together iconic figures known for their counterculture ideals – and challenging the viewer to reimagine how we interpret these revolutionary figures.
Jesus’ ‘House of David’ baseball jersey is a homage to the House of David baseball team from the early half of the 20th century. The House of David was a Christian commune based in Michigan. Benjamin Purnell, their spiritual leader, encouraged the young men to play baseball as a way to build physical and spiritual discipline. The team became quite good, and travelled around the country playing amateur and semi-pro teams in exhibition games – while spreading the Good Word. The House of David played against Major League, Minor League, independent and Negro League teams, with all the same spirit of competition and fair play. I wanted my Jesus to be an everyman, the boy-next-door that every person seemed drawn to – and who accepted everyone. This shirt was a perfect representation of that.
“Flowers of thy heart
O God are they
Let them not pass like weeds away
Their heritage, a sunless day
God save the people”