Process Stories

Psychic Radio Star

In Psychic Radio Star we were developing this character based on the choreographer’s mother’s self given title. You see his mother lives with schizophrenia. Ezra Dickinson devotes much of his solo work to raise awareness around America’s failed mental health care system. Through this performance work he acts as a voice for his mother. This character of the Psychic Radio Star was in response to Ezra sharing with his mother the details of what artistic projects he’d been working on.

This imagined character inspired me as much as it inspired Ezra.

There were many different versions in the drawing stage. Ezra at one point wanted to have a suit where he could reel in these stars from all over the theater. It turned out that idea was going to be tough to work out with choreography. The tech for something like that seemed far out of reach for this iteration. Ezra also really wanted a robe like dress in the beginning and we needed an on stage costume change. We also wanted his body at one point to appear to absorb tons of ‘stars’ and reflect light as if he were a supernova. It had to be a bodysuit!

It needed to seem otherworldly.

My personal breakthrough for this piece was his headpiece. I kept having this nagging feeling like he needed something that seemed otherworldly. Some kind of psychic conduit for his head. I needed a wig cap like NOW! I then set about finding as much reflective silver notions as I could. Throughout my work I’ve found that it’s great to pause in moments where I think I’ve made a miscalculation. Sometimes it’s as though the garment or piece I’m working on is telling me what it needs to become. During the process of making this cap, I ran out of silver ribbon that was a hassle to get. I was frustrated, but then I started looking at the crown of the cap that still needed to be filled and I got this electric surge of excitement. It dawned on me that this would be such a cool place to fill in with a contrasting texture that was even more reflective. Happy accidents!

Visit the Psychic Radio Star project page in the Portfolio section to see how everything came together!

Glow in the dark costume detail. Ezra Dickinson performing in Psychic Radio Star, Danielle Blackwell Assistant Director