John Merritt III
Costume Designer · Crafts Artisan· Wardrobe Supervisor· Stitcher

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The Glass Menagerie
By Tennessee Williams/Directed by Elliot Wasserman

Design Statement 

The Glass Menagerie is known as a memory play, so I knew from the first moment I wanted to incorporate the theme of memory within my design. While staying true to the 1937 time period, I tried to incorporate memory within the costumes by using the faded colors associated with the characters’ palettes that I created. The toned down and pale colors that were popular in the 1930s helped with this. I chose to have Amanda Wingfield in a brighter, vibrant feminine color palette that would coincide with her colorful past as a southern belle. With this I chose to utilize pastel colors, which would be very inappropriate for a woman for her age. This reflects on Laura's color palette, as Amanda tries to reflect her youth into Laura’s life. Laura's color palette in the beginning scenes start out with pale pinks, off white, and browns. In my research, I looked at pictures of 1930s school girls and women doing secretarial work in the 1930s . Her palette goes in a different direction in the gentleman caller dress, as I decided to go with a pale blue lace over a pale lavender slip. The lace, symbolizes her mother's overbearing power in trying to get her married off with a gentleman caller- and the blue was a strong statement to reflect the sadness and pressure that Laura must feel from her mother’s efforts to marry her off. When Amanda comes out in her old southern belle dress we are reminded of her youth as a southern belle. For this dress, I did extensive research on Edwardian/Bella Epoque women. I was deeply drawn to these women, as I saw a connection between Amanda and these women who would often acquire husbands at cotillion balls, and live their life very leisurely. I extended my research on Edwardian women because I believe at some point in her life Amanda was a Gibson girl during her youth in the Edwardian period. She took pride in her beauty, and youth and tries consistently to reflect those characteristics onto Laura. For Tom, I wanted him to exemplify the classic factory worker of the 1930s. Tom is unkempt, but not too run down, as his mother would not allow him to look dirty or unclean. I knew from the start I wanted to put him in more of a dingy, darker color palette. I did this through dark greys, blacks, dark browns, and dingy off white. This strongly juxtaposes his mother’s palette, as they are constantly in confliction. The gentleman caller, Jim O'Connor, I decided to go with more of a warm color palette to tone down all of the color that was going on between the women- and to be the common archetype of the typical business working man in the 1930s. He is the one who comes and tries to fix the conflict of the family by marrying Laura, so obtaining a warmer color palette made sense to me because it was a change between the palettes.


My designs for The Glass Menagerie was a finalist at KCACTF Region 3 Theatrical Design Excellence Category, January of 2017. 

                        Conceptual Research                                                                Color Inspiration 

Concrete Research by Character 

Amanda Wingfield 

Southern Belle Dress Research 

Dar Dress Research 

Housedress Research 

Mr. Wingfield Robe Research 

Womens 1930s Sweaters

1920s Coat

Tom Wingfield 

Merchant Marine Research

Work/Factory Clothes Research

Tom on the go/Coming to Dinner

Dinner Research 

Laura Wingfield 

Laura Secretary/Schoolgirl Research

Gentleman Caller Dress Research                                                                            

Jim O'Connor

1930s Business Man/Suit Research                                                                                      

Amanda Wingfield Renderings & Production Photos  
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Edwardian  Cotillion Southern Belle Dress

Housedress 

DAR Dress

Mr. Wingfield's Robe

Tom Wingfield Renderings & Production Photos  
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Laura Wingfield Renderings & Production Photos  
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Gentleman Caller Dress

Renderings 

Jim O'Connor Rendering & Production Photos  
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