Meet Sonya Berlovitz, Rule of Thumb Costume Designer

Meet Sonya Berlovitz, Rule of Thumb Costume Designer

 Bringing a Classic Murder Mystery to Life — It’s All in the Details!

Agatha Christie: Rule of Thumb written by critically acclaimed mystery writer Dame Agatha Christie will be performed at Park Square Theatre July 12-August 25. The play includes three thrilling one-act murder mysteries with steamy love triangles, sinister plot twists and of course — murder and mayhem! We know you love coming to the theater to see exciting plays like this one, but did you know the process of bringing it all together is just as interesting? We spoke to Sonya Berlovitz (costume designer for Rule of Thumb) about how fashion, historical research, and vintage photography helped her capture the essence of the characters in the story and its themes.

What inspired your costume concept for the show? Is there anything in particular that you are utilizing (a specific historical era, object or piece of artwork) to inform your thinking about costumes?

Sonya: I did a lot of background research on film noir and early black and white films — Austene was very interested in that feeling for the first two scenes. She and I spent time looking at different eras and fashions of the time. We landed on the late 50’s for The Rats, the 30’s and 40’s for The Patient, and the 1910s for The Wasp’s Nest. The Rats needed to have a black and white and angular feel to it. The Patient has the coldness and sterility of a medical setting and The Wasp’s Nest takes place in a garden. Each scene takes place in a different season, which was also a factor in the costume concepts. For The Patient, there are lots of coats because it’s winter.

Sonya BerlovitzWas there anything challenging about this show or finding the appropriate costumes to support the story?

Sonya: I looked at vintage photographs; there are so many from these eras available. I sometimes find a personality in them that have the same feel as the character, and that’s inspiring. The challenge is: how do you give each piece a period feel without being spot on in every detail? I often play with modern elements in my designs, even for period shows. It’s a way of letting the audience into the story so they’re not just watching a museum piece.

 

Sonya BerlovitzWhat motivated you to become a costume designer and what advice would you give someone considering becoming one?

Sonya: My mother was a professional seamstress and I was involved in community theater very early on, so it’s always been a second home for me. I studied painting and fashion in school, which I worked in for a while, but eventually found my way back to theater. I would tell future costume designers to study what inspires you the most; for me it was painting and fashion. And on a more practical level, work as much as you can. There is something to learn from every job no matter how big or small.

Sonya Berlovitz is also costume designer for Park Square’s upcoming production of Pride & Prejudice, which will be performed on our proscenium stage Nov 15-Dec 22.

Interview by Rebecca Nichloson, Marketing Manager