Costume Designer Kendra Rai looks to the ancient world for “…Nightingale”

The costumes for The Love of the Nightingale promise to be a mix of ancient shapes and modern interpretations in the unique way that only Kendra Rai can do. We had a chance to sit down with Kendra and talk about designing costumes for this production. The sketches are all Kendra’s originals.

What was your inspiration for the costumes? 

The Love of the Nightingale costumes reflect the periodic which it takes place. We considered going modern but the stories and situations in the play were definitely from another time in history:  we went right to the Athenians for answers! This is a Greek world.

Blog.sistersIn the play a simple formula is to see the casts in black and white – good and bad. The Athenians – Procne and Philomele and their chorus, are good. Their costumes carry Greek outlines from the ancient world. They flow, they drape, they are beautiful.

Procne and Philomele are Athenians, and  the daughters of the King of Athens

By the way…there are no togas!

The Thracians – or Tereus’s clan and chorus, are darker, “not so nice” in common parlance. Their costumes tend to be darker, harder, more rigid, with asymmetrical lines.


Greek mythologyThrax (by his name simply the quintessential Thracian
was regarded as one of the reputed sons of the god Ares, the God of War

The Chorus’ presented some unique problems because the actors switch sides and costumes again and again, and quickly. Theoretically, we know how difficult it is to go from dark to light and back again in seconds! So we created base costumes with pieces that the Chorus adds for the two cultures. The Athenians have long veils with gold accents, while the Thracians have black leather and silver/metal accents.

What is your favorite costume in the show?

My favorite is the Captain costume for Ashley Ivey. I love Ashley Ivey! (Kendra has costumed Blog.CaptainAshley in over ten productions). Although Ashley’s Captain is Thracian he is a softer character and Philomele actually falls in love with him. We made the Captain a beautiful leather coat with asymmetrical lines. He looks amazing in it.

How much can you tell us about the birds?

In the myth, the main characters turn into birds at the end of the play.  From a costume standpoint, this switch happens really quickly. But we were able to add masks, capes and in a few cases, wings,  that quickly change the characters into beautiful birds: swallow, nightingale, hoopoe.

You had some masks made for the show, too?

Yes, I designed several masks for the play within the play: the story of Phaedra, who falls in love with Hippolytus, the son of her husband. I had two mask builders who took my drawings and made them. We were able to duplicate Grecian Theatre Masks for this play, which are really gorgeous and exciting.

blog.Play One word to describe The Love of the Nightingale?


Thank you Kendra!


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