From Soil to Studio

It’s all about the site…

In 2015, We Players had the great pleasure of collaborating with Sasha Duerr and her “Soil to Studio” class at California College of the Arts for our Ondine at Sutro. With permission from the National Park Service, and working in collaboration with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, we source native coastal plants and other materials (such as charcoal from the beach and rust from old pipes of the baths) to dye the silks used for the ondines’ costumes. This year, we’re headed to a very different environment – from moist, salty sea breezes to the hot, dry and agriculturally rich wine country in Sonoma County. Once again we are partnering with Sasha and her students to source natural dyes from the environment, allowing the clothes to literally become an extension of the landscape.

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Soil to Studio visited our performance site at Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park in late February, for sense activating exercises, a talk and walk through of the project vision, and plant identification. The students gathered walnuts, lichens, and nopal, and also used cochineal (scaled bugs that live on the nopal cactus) and iron shavings to create stunningly beautiful, rich colors.

Our costume designer Brooke Jennings is working with these colors to shape the color palette of her design. Brooke shares, “The crux of my design is deeply influenced by the performance site, its history, and how people thrived in this rich space. Harvesting the resources needed to create natural dyes from the site itself helps inform a more integrated, specific window to the world of our show and the history of the site. For me, to personally recreate the ways in which people in 1830’s California made clothing using the tools and resources from the site itself is an incredible archeological experience.”

 

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Our work is deeply inspired by the project site. Working thoughtfully with the land in creating our designs is central to both our ethos and aesthetic. Many thanks to Sasha and her students at CCA for joining forces with We Players to create such stunning fabrics!

In our next episode…how animals native to this Northern California landscape are inspiring our mask maker Monica Lundy, and the wearable sculptures she is creating for the characters.