In the spring of 2008, I was the costume designer for Amherst College's production of Kushner's
play The Illusion. In this show, an adaption of a 17th-century French comedy, a dying man visits a
magician for news of his long-estranged son.
When the magician shows him three "illusions" of his son's life, those stories begin to blur the line between
fact and fantasy.
The director chose to set the production in the 1920's, so my costume designs
echoed that era. The costumes for the "illusion" scenes were also influenced by Tarot card
designs (particularly in the choice of colors) and early 20th century Russian country clothing.
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In the first illusion, Pridamant watches as his son falls in love with a young woman.
The son is a poor man, dressed in a Russian country tunic.
The young beloved's dress and belt were constructed based on a 1920's garment.
The young beloved is a wealthy woman in the second illusion. The color of her
costume is inspired by a peach Poiret dressing gown, while the cut is duplicated from a period dress.
The son attempts to seduce his lover's maid. Her dress pattern is a copy of a period
dress, and the pattern is inspired by a 1920's fashion painting.
The son battles his rival - country man against soldier.
In the third illusion, the lovers have grown older and more disillusioned with their romance.
The son's garments are inspired
by a Russian merchant's coat, while the beloved's dress is another Poiret-inspired construction.
Pridamant watches from above.
All production photographs by Samuel Masinter.