COSTUME DESIGN

Costumes define a cast of satirical archetypes instantly recognizable to modern audiences, providing visual equivalents to Blitzstein’s naming devices. The characters’ names are their professions and, overall, costumes are used to reflect two different ideas of the modern “uniform.” A uniform can define and label an individual as unique (exemplified by the Liberty Committee and Mr. Mister’s corruption), or allow an individual to identify with and assimilate into to a united group of people (Larry Foreman and the Union Workers). To make the characters more relatable, the costumes combine contemporary clothing with period influences as seen in garment research, make-up, hair, and styling. They are undeniably modern, though reminiscent of an earlier era during which the narrative takes place. Characters who have sold out to Mr. Mister, whether they are actively seeking or complacently participating in luxurious kickbacks, are influenced by high fashion. Their corruption is represented through artificial structure and silhouettes, graphic prints, and saturated colors. Those characters also have stylized make-up that darkens and hollows their eyes, an idea that references 1930s photographs and communicates that they have sold their soul and moral values away to Mr. Mister. In contrast, the uniforms of Larry Foreman, the Union Workers, and other characters in that social class are functional and well-worn, without the artifice of structure or color. They wear earth-toned, utilitarian clothing that harkens back to workwear of earlier decades. Caught between the two worlds, the protagonist Moll incorporates elements of both - while her styling refers to the visual language of Mr. Mister and the other sellouts, her clothing reminds us that she comes from the workaday world of Larry Foreman. She provides the audience with a way into this world of corruption. Alongside Moll, the audience discovers Mr. Mister and his sleazy machinations.

To facilitate the large cast of featured players in The Cradle Will Rock, we propose a production with a few key parts doubled. In particular, the roles of the Gent and Gus can be performed by the same person, as can the parts of Junior Mister and Professor Scoot. More importantly, these characters should be cast from the ensemble, as can the roles of Stevie, Bugs, Sadie, and Ella Hammer. The chorus should have at least ten additional members, as Blitzstein intended for the work’s premiere, and this ensemble of sixteen will perform multiple roles as religious affiliates in the Mission, members of the upper class in the Hotel lobby, reporters from the newspaper, and (most critically) as the laborers who join their voices to sing the final union chorus of the title song. Additionally, we cannot imagine a modern-day Liberty Committee without a single female member, so our team has re-cast the role of Editor Daily as a woman. (We’ve zeroed in on Editor Daily because of the part’s vocal range and the power dynamic among Editor Daily, Mr. Mister, and Junior Mister, though it would certainly be possible to reassign gender for other members of the Liberty Committee.)