QCT SPOTLIGHT: Valerie Hernandez
If you have plans to see IS HE DEAD? (and you should), Valerie Hernandez is going to take your breath away. Her costume design for IS HE DEAD? is impeccable; her dedication to QCT’s costume collection admirable.
We caught up with Valerie to learn more about her for this month’s Spotlight…
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
A: I’m originally from the Ursa, IL area. I now live in Quincy, where I founded a theatrical troupe called Square Peg Group-Troupe. I’m obsessed with reading, writing, and all the costumes on the show, The Collection.
Q: How did you become involved with theatre?
A: When I was six, a traveling troupe came to my elementary school to perform an interactive version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I was picked to play Bashful. The first time I got a laugh, I was immediately hooked! I loved the feeling of making my schoolmates happy and living in a world I’d only imagined, even if for only an hour. Afterwards, a number of classmates and I would organize our own plays and put them on for our class or the entire school. In third grade we even performed THE ASSASSIN, which was about the assassination of President Lincoln. I got to play John Wilkes Booth and wear a fake mustache! (Which could be where my captivation with mustaches first came from!)
Q: What do you believe theatre does for you, personally?
A: Theatre, for me, has been such a wonderful outlet! I can come in, forget the stress of the day and just be creative. It’s an amazing playground where I’m not afraid to express my ideas or search for new ones. In addition, I get to see so many gifted people working on projects that give them joyful outlets. Theatre is such a cyclical wheel of inspiration.
Q: Where/when did your fascination with costumes start?
A: Funny enough, I feel like it came from watching my Mom get ready for parties. Back in the day, she used to be a top Tupperware seller, and the parties would be big social events with fun hors d’ oeuvres, punch, and games. So she would dress up a bit in what to me looked like extravagant suits, skirts, palazzo pants, beautiful gold jewelry, black liquid eyeliner, and a spritz of Night Musk perfume. She automatically transformed into someone paradoxically different, but the same. She was my Mom, but also completely herself. Just from putting on different clothes! And I was absolutely transfixed every time I saw this happen.
Q: How do costumes tell the story?
A: Just like the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” a costume can tell you a thousand words instantaneously about the character wearing them. Is she rich? Is he a slob? You know, sometimes unconsciously, who this person is or who this person can be without having to have someone tell you.
A good costume can elevate a show in so many ways. Not only can the costumes affect the actors – sometimes helping or even hindering an actor’s discovery of the character – but it can have an effect on the audience – helping them connect to the time period or distracting them from an actor’s performance. And just like with a really good lighting design, an audience may not even notice how a costume has impacted their feelings toward a character or the show in general. It can be very subconscious.
Q: What was your vision/inspiration for IS HE DEAD?
A: IS HE DEAD? takes place in one of my favorite fashion time periods – the late 1840s/early 1850s. There was such an explosion of pattern and color mixing at this time, and since this is a comedy, I really wanted to show that off to its biggest and fullest. I really wanted each character’s appearance to be very layered and textured. I then took into consideration the characters’ personalities, ages, socioeconomic status, and home country. When I had that all in mind, I spoke with the director and set/ lighting designer to get a feel for the overall tones and tints being used onstage. Whew! It sounds like a lot in retrospect!
Q: How much work has gone into this show?
A: There has been oodles and oodles of hours of work put into the show from absolutely everyone involved! We are constantly reaching for the better and best of our abilities. Sometimes that means completely changing what you thought was a finished product! But it is for the benefit of the show, and the audience. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have volunteers like Jeannette Brickman and Carol Rankin, along with Susan Scholz, who are talented, creative, and amenable to me changing my mind!
Q: What piece are you proudest of?
A: There are so many costumes to be proud of! I will say that one of my favorites has to be the mourning dress the character Marie (Kelsey Pigg) wears in Act II. It is truly a work of art constructed by the amazing Jeannette Brickman!
Q: Do you have to be able to sew to work on costumes here?
A: No! You can volunteer in the Costume Shop even if you’ve never picked up a needle and thread! Working in the Costume Shop is a little like making a quilt. There are so many pieces and parts that have to be cut out before you can assemble the entire product. We need help pulling costume pieces from our stock, doing laundry, hot gluing accessories, ironing, steaming, scouting out pieces we need to buy or borrow, just so many things! If you have the desire to help out, we want you!
Volunteers are the bedrock of any production. From sewing by hand or machine, constructing costumes from patterns, or even helping the Costume Designer pull stock pieces, there is a place for every volunteer.
IS HE DEAD?
May 3-6 & 11-13, 2018
Tickets On Sale April 9