Virginia Varland

Costume Design


Play by Lynn Nottage

Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts

Directed by Jerrell Henderson

Set Design by Se Oh   

Light Design by Alexander Ridgers

Production Photos by Justin Barbin              


Undine painfully reconstructs her identity in the Brooklyn Projects when an unwanted pregnancy exposes the fragility of her Park Avenue life. She must reconcile the crippling shame she feels towards her cultural heritage in order to find security in her family and community after the glamorous life she thinks she wanted crumbles before her eyes.

I was struck by how the people Undine encounters along her journey first appear to conform to unkind stereotypes, but then reveal themselves as complex and motivated individuals, re-educating the audience along with Undine. For example, Undine’s understanding of her Grandmother, who first appears as a trope of a wise old woman, is deepened when Grandmother confesses her fear and drug dependence. People from all walks of life continuously reconstruct Undine’s understanding of herself and her world by transforming her rage to compassion and her desperation to contentment. These people- her family, community, and even chance encounters- build the security she needs to eventually accept herself. I used the clothes to visually articulate Undine’s arc of acceptance. A corner drug dealer becomes a savvy businessman, an inmate becomes a woman who is trapped by circumstance, and a blue collar family provides the security that Undine needs to face her new life with fortitude.