Bold beads, beaky birds
Matt Riley discusses his role as costume designer for “The Birds”
Matt Riley, junior theater major, is the costume designer for “The Birds,” Georgia College’s performance based on an adaptation from the classic Greek comedy by Aristophanes. Riley’s role is highly demanding in the overall production of the play. However, this is a task easily achieved for Riley, having been a Regional Costume Design Winner at the Kennedy Space Center American Theatre Festival. Riley gives The Colonnade insight into his experience and rationale used in the process of making the costumes.
Q: What is your process, from starting the design all the way to the final product?
A: I start by reading the script and getting familiar with the characters. Then I like to figure out who is the most important character and get very familiar with them. The next thing is I build a research board, and I put clippings of images that I think are a good fit for where I’m wanting to go with my designs. Next, I start my renderings and start sketching and putting my ideas on paper. Then I finally get to the point where I actually start picking fabric swatches that I like for the costumes and putting them together to then start building the costumes.
Q: What is/was your favorite part of designing the costumes?
A: My favorite part was actually just doing the research and getting inspiration for the designs. I listened to a lot of music, a lot of Florence and the Machine, to help stimulate my creativity.
Q: In your report, you talked about wanting to display diversity and youth in your costumes. Do you feel that your achieved that goal?
A: Yes, I would say that, thus far, from my designs I think I have.
Q: What is the most interesting piece, fabric, jewelry, etc., that you put on the costumes?
A: We actually have yet to get a lot of the pieces. My team of designers and I will have to go up to Atlanta to find pieces from costume shops. But I do have actual peacock feathers we will use that I retrieved from my Aunt’s farm.
Q: What was the biggest difficulty you faced while making the costumes?
A: The biggest difficulty would be collaboration. I just wanted to make sure that I designed costumes that remained true to Karen’s [the director’s] vision. I did not want to hinder her creativity in the play so I tried to stay in touch with her with all my ideas and make sure she liked what I had designed.
Q: What was the easiest part of the process for you?
A: Doodling – just getting my sketch pad and putting something on the paper. I love to draw so this was definitely the easiest part of the process.
Q: How does it feel to see something you designed up on the stage in the end?
A: Since the play isn’t for a few more weeks I can’t tell you how it feels with these costumes specifically. But I have had to design costumes in other plays. The very first time you see the costumes on stage is probably the best feeling, but it only lasts a few seconds before you start noticing things that are falling off or things you need to go fix. It’s still very rewarding having that final product though.
To see Riley’s costumes on stage, show times for Aristophanes’ “The Birds” are 8 p.m. Sept. 26 to Sept. 29 and 2 p.m. on Sept. 30 in Russell Auditorium. Tickets are $14 for senior citizens, $10 for GC faculty and $5 for students. Purchase tickets in advance at GCSUTickets.com or by calling 478-445-4226.