Virginia Varland

Costume Design


The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade

Play by Peter Weiss

Theoretical Design             

Cast before the chaotic background of the inmates of Charenton Asylum in 1808, Marat/Sade grapples with the inevitability of injustice and society’s ambivalence towards it. Actively disagreeing with the thesis of the play, I countered this cruelty by focusing on people suffering from mental illness and isolation. The costumes were used primarily to create individual narratives and personalities for each inmate. Secondarily, the costumes function to denote the French Revolution era characters that the ‘inmates’ portray in the play within this play. The style and cut of the garments define the Napoleonic era asylum, with bits of revolutionary attire added such as a sashe or tricolore cocade to denote the revolution or specific applied roles. Despite due respect to Mssrs. Marat and de Sade opinions, I strive to honestly depict people with mental illness as people who are imaginative, deeply sensitive and capable of intense emotion and great compassion.