Love. Music. Intrigue. Imagine these three words with gondolas, rain, and risotto and you have the setting of my recent activities. Since when did I head to Venice? Since I began my work on the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company‘s world premiere of Appoggiatura. In this brand new play written by three-time Pulitzer Prize nominee James Still, Helen, Chuck and Sylvie are touring Europe starting with Italy and are confronted by their relationships, past and present. Tensions build as the characters run around Venice and search for each other, collide with visions of the past, and eventually find themselves amongst the directions, “A destra, a sinistra, dritto, dritto.” Ready to join me in Venice? Then come along as a take you through my style sets inspired by the costume designs of Appoggiatura Costume Designer Meghan Anderson Doyle.
Helen and Aunt Chuck
If you’ve traveled with heartbreak back home, you’ll unfortunately understand the plight of Aunt Chuck. His recent loss of his husband to Gordon has left him sad and missing the one he loved dearly, even though he decides to join Helen and Sylvie in Venice. Dressed in a pink-striped shirt from Arthur & Henry, a company who makes their shirts with organic cotton, and khaki pants from People Tree, he’s ready to venture in Europe. But, before he leaves, he needs to remember these brown slip-on shoes from Brave Gentleman, a company who uses 100% vegan materials and ethical production methods. And, he can’t forget to decorate his nails with teal polish from RGB (Did you really think that nail polish was for Helen?). Helping Aunt Chuck find his way to Piazza San Marco is our heroine Helen, Gordon’s ex-wife. People may think her mix of necklaces and earrings from Mata Traders and Faire Collection accompanied by bracelets and rings from Shop Ethica and Hearts looks mish-mashed, but that doesn’t deter Helen from falling in love with Italy. Perhaps Helen’s happy to know that Shop Ethica is committed to providing clothing from sustainable and ethical labels. Completing her unique style is a delightful pink top from Braintree Clothing paired with pants from Passion Lilie. To assist Helen along her way, she’s prepared with cream flats from Beyond Skin and a purse from luxury fashion brand, Maiyet, who partners with Nest, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing artisan businesses training in independent entrepreneurship.
Sylvie and Marco
Like most college graduates, Sylvie, Helen’s granddaughter, struggles to find her next pathway in life to give her meaning and purpose. A blue top from Braintree Clothing and jeans from Untouched World, exemplify her simple and “no fuss” style. Paired with boots from Fortress of Inca, a shoe company committed to preserving traditional handmade construction techniques, Sylvie’s prepared to explore Venice, but not without a simple necklace from Noonday Collection and additional jewelry from Hearts. Speaking of hearts, another companion, Marco, the tour guide hired by Helen, nurses his own broken heart as he wanders the streets of Venice with Sylvie. He mistakenly assumes he can romance Sylvie with a grey t-shirt from Zady and tan pants from Apolis Global, but unfortunately these pieces don’t impress Sylvie. Perhaps he should have told her Zady‘s products are made in the USA and they are committed to the meaning of: “Process matters. Quality matters. Honesty matters.” Will Sylvie change her mind? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean they can’t strike up a good friendship while discussing past loves and as he strolls wearing black boots from Fortress of Inca.
Young Gordon and Helen
Walk long enough in Venice, and you’ll be taken back in time. How you ask? Just ask Gordon and Young Helen who find their way into modern Helen’s vacation as she wanders through Venice while Aunt Chuck has a drink at a local bar. Looking for his wife, Gordon is a handsome young man in a white button-up shirt from Arthur and Henry, a blue-striped jacket from In God We Trust, and khaki pants from Apolis Global. To polish off his look, Gordon wears a tie from FaireJour and brown shoes from Bourgeois Boheme, shoes made of vegan materials from the UK. And, don’t forget about his hat, a fedora from Run by Rural, a company who works with an artisan group in Northern Peru. Upon finding his wife Helen, our modern Helen might faint from seeing herself in the past. The teal print dress from People Tree and pink heels from Beyond Skin will remind Helen of her past style, romantic and hopeful. Helen’s younger self reminds her of how much she always loved vibrant colors as she recognizes pink and teal accessories from Cred Jewellry and Faire Collection, a fair trade jewelry company featuring work from artisans in South America, Africa, and Asia. Helen will be even more delighted when her younger self pulls out a Brownie Box camera from her pink Maiyet bag.
Don’t be misled by the simple title for this musical group. Just because they’re a small ensemble doesn’t mean they’re less important. Stylish black pants and an olive top from Untouched World, a company from New Zealand who is committed to conservation, create a simple and universal look to play many characters as our female trio member walks through Venice in boots from Fortress of Inca. Black fin earrings from Faire Collection, rings from Hearts, and bracelets from Noonday Collection and Mercado Global, whose Rural Women Entrepreneurs Education Program empowers artisans in Guatemala, are just the right accessories for this musical woman. Watch her in the completed look as she transitions to multiple tour guides, sings a beautiful lullaby, and struggles with Sylvie over matters of the heart. As a male member of this trio, darker pants from Flint and Tinder, a Navy polka dot shirt from Arthur and Henry, and boots from Bourgeois Boheme are versatile for a man who plays many parts. He’ll need to steal Young Gordon’s hat from Run by Rural to play Gordon as an older man in Aunt Chuck’s memories. If he needs to switch into Helen’s imagination of Vivaldi, he’ll need to grab a black coat from Vaute Couture and a hat from Brave Gentleman. Whatever the case may be, he’ll be sure to make you laugh as a gondolier or cry as an old Italian man walking around Venice with his canine companions.
Are you ready to find more about these intricate and detailed relationships, both past and present? Then head to the Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company in downtown Denver to see the world premiere of Appoggiatura. You won’t regret traveling internationally to reflect on the past and present with Meghan Anderson Doyle‘s costume designs, there’s nothing quite like it.
“Appoggiatura” (World Premiere) by James Still, Denver Center for the Performing Arts Theatre Company 2015
Director: Risa Branin
Costume Designer: Meghan Anderson Doyle
Cast: Paul Bentzen, Mehry Eslamania, Lenne Klingaman, Darrie Lawrence, Nick Mills, Rob Nagle, and Julian Remulla.