In 2004 I was the guest artist at Elmhurst College (in Elmhurst, IL) for their theatre production of The Love for Three Oranges. The play was written as children’s theatre and fused fairy tale with Commedia dell’ Arte.

Commedia dell’ Arte started to develop in the 1500’s. It involves a set of stock characters that each has specific character traits and plot functions among other details. All of that information is part of the mask design. For example, Il Dottore was a kind of mock doctor character who was costumed in a black academic or scholarly manor. His mask covered just the forehead and nose and showed off the cheeks, which were reddened as a sign of the character’s “love of the bottle.” In my version of Dottore, I included glasses as an extension of the scholarly image.

The fairy tale element of this play shows up in the villains: Creonta, a crew of Grotesques, Fata Morgana, and Princess Clarissa. For these characters I looked specifically at Disney’s villains for consistent characteristics that seem to visually evoke evil. I concluded that horns and extremely arched eyebrows were the key elements. These observations informed my designs for the villainous characters.