preliminary costume notes July 2002
To combine the Art Deco costume ideas from the original film with other early science fiction sources, such as the films "Things to Come" and "Flash Gordon," along with the stylization of Expressionism and Futurism which are both theatre movements of the early 20th Century which inspired the original film of "Metropolis."
To think in terms of the show primarily being a "Fantasy" as opposed to pure "Science Fiction"--despite the above suggestions for source inspirations. The story is meant to be allegorical more than literally predictive, so Fantasy and the implication of less reality and even "impossible" elements in the costumes is to be encouraged.
Sparing use of color, to suggest the black and white world of the original, and in keeping with the dark mood of the story and the set design. Black and deep metallic midnight blue are the set's primary colors.
NOTE:Air-brushing will be used throughout the set. Painting on costumes may be a method that will help create the feel of unreality needed.
ART DECO of 1920s - 1930's
Russian Constructionist Theatre from 1910 - 1930
German Expressionism of early 20th Century
early science fiction--Jules Verne, H.G. Wells
the films "Things To Come" "Brazil" "1984" "Blade Runner" "Batman"
CHARACTER LIST and costume notes
THE WORKERS (approximately 10)
Either very deep Navy Blue or charcoal jump-suits. Distressed, very worn. Substantial cloth, as in denim. Some detailing that has a Deco and sci-fi feel to it, such as a different collar, reinforced cuffs. All with a stark Metropolis emblem on the left breast.
Colorized lobby cards from the film show some workers with white yokes, but that seems wrong. But that collar design may be helpful in developing our yoke design, which could be done in a contrasting dark shade.
The film has a different design for the women, with them in some kind of simple denim dress. But for our show, which will have more women working together with the men, it would be better if the work uniforms are unisex. Head scarves for some women, solid colors.
Some dancers will be taking off their uniforms to work in grease stained A-line T-shirts, both men and women. This may call for their jump-suits to be in two pieces, while the others have one piece, true jump-suits. That way, these dancers could rip off their tops for the on-stage change.
GROAT--machine room foreman
His jump-suit may have a different collar, to his his higher status. At the website the "images from Metropolis" page, there is a picture of Groat from the film where he has a V neck collar.
THE CHILDREN--four to six
Same colors and cloth as the adults, but much more distressed, so that they are almost rags. Perhaps some patches. Two piece, simple baggy pants, pull-over shapeless shirts. Boys and girls dressed alike.
MACHINE ROOM GUARDS--two
Lighter colored jump suits and less distressed, with accessories: Boots, work gloves with gauntlets, belts with holsters for guns, face masks/helmets. Effect should be that they aren't human. Perhaps shoulder pads suggestive of football gear, or combat armor. At the website on the "Things To Come" page are some workers in bizarre uniforms.
MARIA--spiritual leader of the workers
In the film she wears a simple European looking shift, with a wide white yoke collar. The original London production has her in a modified worker's uniform, and that seems right in keeping with the unisex concept, and wanting the women in the show to have equal status as the men. We may want to have her jump suit more faded, so she can stand out in the crowd.
JOHN FREEMAN ("Frederson" in the film)--the mastermind of the city
In the film, he's dressed in a nice period business suit. The image of an exalted executive is important, so a dark suit is the basis on which to build, and preferably not a modern one. But we need him more imperious looking, and with a sci-fi touch. At the website on the "Things To Come" page, images 10 and 12, and some others, show the Romanesque costumes worn by the men. The curving piece that flares up from the waist, creating a kind of chest plate, which continues over the head and down the back, can be superimposed on the suit. The Roman cape draping from the shoulders is probably too much, and the bare legs are definitely wrong for us.
JEREMIAH ("Slim" in the film)--Freeman's assistant
Dark, tight fitting suit with pegged legs and narrow lapels, to emphasize a strong, lean body. Extremely simple, without the chest plate Freeman has, and with a dark, collarless shirt that works without a necktie. One arm will have a communication device strapped to it.
WARNER ("Rotwang" in the film)--the scientist
There is a dusty Medieval look to his smock in the film. Unkempt, his makeup design will be based on Einstein. Perhaps the remnants of a more modest breast plate as described for Freeman. Dark dusty purples. Suggestive of a doctor or lab scientist's smock, but of heavier material and perhaps with conflicting patterns done in panels. Should look complex and Byzantine.
STEVEN ("Freder" in the film)--Freeman's son
First seen as an Elitist, his is the first bright costume seen. The novel describes his garments as being made of silk. In the film he wore Jodhpurs, not an option. Casual wear, but elegant. Billowy pull-over shirt with a broad Romantic collar, perhaps of a light warm color (he is "the Heart" of the story's theme), with tailored fairly tight pants of tan, and perhaps riding boots.
NOTE:George (listed below) has to wear either the same or identical costume later.
THE ELITISTS--approximately six
Seen only once in Act One, at what could be seen as a Masquerade party. The scene is analogousto "The Pleasure Garden" sequence in the film. Only women are see in the film, but we may have men also. The original designs had the women in fanciful pastiches from several periods. Some may be fairly sexy costumes, two piece bathing suits as the foundation.
The lead dancer in the Elitist scene. At the website on the "Images from Metropolis" page, there is a picture labeled "Freder and a playmate." In that, she has an extravagant Deco-style halter top dress which could be the basis for a design. Visible legs in dark patterned stockings would be good for the solo dance she performs. Maybe spiked heels.
GEORGE ("Georgi" in the film)--a worker
As the worker at the central clock machine, we need to add a different style and/or color yoke to his jump suit. He is the lead worker with whom Steven does the "Prince and The Pauper" switch. This would make Steven's jump-suit differentiated from the rest once he's taken George's place. To be determined if this requires two identical costumes, or if the actors can actually switch costumes. Same goes for Steven's Elitist costume listed above--George must appear in it.
MARIA's SECOND COSTUME
When she leads the secret meeting, we may want her to add a shawl, or switch completely to a simple skirt and blouse--her equivalent for dressing up for church.
FUTURA THE ROBOT
Maria's alter-ego, when first seen as a metal robot, will actually be played by someone else in the cast. Here are the elements decided on so far:
flexible--spandex with "suit of armor" pieces on joints and limbs
suggestion of original design
partial pieces to be worn as the transformed robot starts reverting back to a machine
To elaborate: Gold spandex as a basis will allow the performer freedom of movement. At the joints, pelvis, and shoulders, pieces modified from a vacu-form suit of armor (catalog is on hand) can be added. The rest of it will be more stylized, in keeping with the look of the whole show.
Partial pieces, such as a cheek bone, the hand, will be added on the actor playing Maria, as the robot starts reverting back to metal.
The entire costume will probably also be dressed on a mannequin for the final robot scene where the false Maria is burned in the machine room furnace, involving a switch from the actor playing Maria, to the costumed dummy.
THE ELITISTS's SECOND COSTUMES
Act Two begins with a ballroom scene, with the Elitists more formally dressed than in Act One. The London production had the men in Tuxes and wild animal skin vests, so that there was a zebra vest, a tiger vest, etc. The women were in evening gowns. A possible concept is that they are all dressed alike, in unisex silver jump-suits for instance, to parallel the workers' costumes.
We probably want some of the men in the Freeman style sci-fi breast plates, done with variations.
NOTE:A male and female couple peform a Disco parody of the workers, and their costumes could be sexier, to go with their suggestive lyrics.
FREEMAN's SECOND COSTUME
When he arrives at the ball, he could be in the same suit, but with a new gaudier chest plate, and perhaps the Roman cape would work at this point.
FUTURA's DANCE COSTUME
In the London production, she was in a red evening gown with a plunging neckline. This is too pedantic for what we're going for. We need to base this design on the very revealing costume worn by the false Maria (Futura) in Freder's vision from the film. At the website on the "Images from Metropolis" page, a colorized frame from her dance in the film can be seen under "Dance of the Maria Robot." It has a wild flaring Deco headdress, narrow strips starting at her waist for a revealing skirt, perhaps silvery stockings, a chiffon shawl she moves with, and an almost nude look from the waist up, with small Egyptian looking cups without straps barely covering her breasts. The effect must be erotic.
NOTE: the on-screen "control voices" in the script will be computer animations--no costumes needed!
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