"The Baker of Madrigal" is a new adaptation of Jose Zurilla's
"Traidor, inconfeso y martir" by Jeffrey Bersett. The play was first
produced in the Spring
of 2004 by Theatre Westminster with Scott Mackenzie directing, Michael
Slane on lighting/set design, Andrew Ade as Dramaturg and myself,
Webster, on costumes. The play is set in Spain,
1594. Phillip II is King of Spain and the Netherlands. He
also rules Portugal because its King Sebastion died on the
battlefield without a successor. Zorilla's original play
was written in 1849, in
verse, for a very different audience. This adaptation
focuses on the personal more than the political. It
explores individual and family development that result from
an investigation of rumors that a baker from the town of Madrigal is
actually the King of Portugal, believed to have been killed on the
many years earlier.
Costuming as Research Design
My main expertise as a psychologist is in research
statistics. Designing and conducting good research (and
is a sequential problem solving process. It's steps include:
The portfolio includes original concept sketches, links to historical
models, technical details and photographs of the completed costumes in
- Conceptualization-- What should the costumes do for this
play? What does the director want conveyed through the costuming?
What aspects of the characters need to be demonstrated through the
- Analysis -- What resources are needed? Where can they be
found? What's the budget? What is essential for the play,
its period, and the actors?
- Strategy Selection: What's the best way to produce the
concept given the resources and constraints?
- Execution: Building the Costumes.
- Evaluation: Do the costumes work in the play? What
improvements should be made for the next time?
The photographs of the costumes on these pages were taken by my
husband, Ronald Webster. He and my son Phillip also assisted with
all the hundreds of eyelets in the costumes and farthingale
construction. Two student costume assistants were especially
helpful, Tara Savage who sewed more than anyone but me and Amber
Scalfari who learned to sew, painted lace and made shoes. I was
also assisted duing the final week by my freinds from First
Baptist Church of New Castle, Becky Cole, Debbie Puth and Penny
Lawrence. My mother, Lu Pruitt, provided advice and access to
much of the cloth and leather used to build the
costumes. Our director, Scott McKenzie, allowed
me to make all the costuming decisions, but he was always quick to
answer my questions so that the costuming could fit his vision of the
play. The author, Jeff Bersett, wrote a great play with
intriguing characters to costume. It was exciting to work with
the writer and dramaturg, Andrew Ade, as the play was revised, edited
and polished. Thanks, Jeff, for not adding the dozen dancing
girls from Venice two weeks before show time. Mike Slane worked
closely with me at the initial stages of conceptualization so that we
could have costuming that worked with the lighting and set design and
all be "off a piece." The student actors who wore the costumes
with such enthusiasm were a great inspiration to me. Finally, I
must acknowledge Janet Arnold whose published works on historical
costume are so accurate and complete. They are a joy for the
scholar and seamstress.
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