Alison Heryer is the costume designer for The Yellow Wallpaper, and has designed costumes for theatre, film, and print. Her work as costume designer includes productions at Steppenwolf Theatre, The New Victory Theatre, Portland Center Stage, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, ZACH Theatre, Redmoon Theater, and La MaMa. Recent awards include the Austin Critics Table Award for Costume Design and the ArtsKC Inspiration Grant. Heryer holds an MFA in Theatrical Design from the University of Texas at Austin and is a member of United Scenic Artists. She is currently the Assistant Professor of Costume Design in the School of Theater + Film at Portland State University.
What inspired you to work with the original “Yellow Wallpaper” text?
I have always wanted to work on some kind of adaptation of either this or Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. I remember reading these in high school having clear visualizations of what each story looked like. When Philip approached me about this project I was thrilled! It is such an aesthetically rich project and it has been a pleasure to help bring it to stage.
How are the story and details of this play, set in 1892, relevant today?
We are certainly in a different world today, however I think that the issues this production bring up about gender and mental instability are entirely relevant. One of the ways that we tried to bring this in as far as the costume design is by creating a consciously ambiguous look when it comes to period. The general silhouette is there – long skirts, restrictive necklines for women. But many of the fabrics, style lines used, and underwear are direct nods to contemporary fashion. John’s costume is probably the closest to what we would consider authentically period – however I attempted to keep him pretty neutral in reference to the three-piece suit and use contemporary neck-wear.
What new projects do you have in the works now?
Too much in the works! I’m working on new versions of several classics. Eugene Onegin with Portland Opera, Mousetrap with Indiana Repertory Theatre, and a surrealist inspired Mary Poppins at ZACH Theatre in Austin, TX are next on my plate. When I’m not designing, I’m always working with amazing students in the School of Theater + Film at Portland State University.