Hear from David Reynoso, Set and Costume Designer for Cabaret and Costume Designer for Alice vs. Wonderland.
Ryan McKittrick: What kind of environment are you creating for Cabaret?
David Reynoso: It’s going to be a space that’s alive as soon as you enter. When you come into the Kit Kat Klub, the show has already started by the time you sit down. It’s been fascinating to research the old Weimar-era cabarets. Berlin was known as the epicenter of sexual escapades. It was a place where people went to let loose, which is interesting because OBERON has developed a similar reputation.
RM: Have any artists inspired your design?
DR: We’ve been looking at the paintings of Otto Dix and a lot of other German expressionist artists. The Kit Kat Klub dancers are going to be wearing a lot of makeup, so they’ll look like paintings that have come to life. They’ll be exciting and arousing, but there will also be something saddening about them.
RM: What’s appealed to you about Otto Dix’s paintings?
DR: What I love about Dix is that his paintings are grotesque. There’s something equally alluring and off-putting about them, which is very much what the Kit Kat Klub is. There’s a constant tension in the Klub between fun and ugliness and you see this in Otto Dix’s work. I think Cabaret is going to be a one-two punch. you’re brought in thinking that you’re here to have fun, and then all of a sudden you realize there are horrible things lurking in the shadows. That’s represented in a lot of the artists we’ve been looking at.
RM: What else has influenced your design?
DR: We’ve been looking at the film The Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich—I’ve been fascinated by all the tchotchkes and statues in the cabaret where her character performs. I’ve also been inspired by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis because of how, on a visual level, human bodies behave in relation to the monumental and sometimes oppressive spaces depicted in the film.
RM: You also designed the costumes for the A.R.T.’s production of Alice vs. Wonderland. How would you describe the look of your costumes in that show?
DR: Early on in the process, I showed the director János Szász some images of these thuggish-looking men with gold teeth and big jewelry who are wearing these girly, baby doll dresses over their baggy clothing. There was something about the topsy-turviness of it that felt very appropriate for Alice. Things were just not what they were supposed to be.
Ryan McKittrick is the A.R.T. Dramaturg.