Critic's Notebook: Dressing up for the 'Camino Real'

Kilroy is here


The Atlanta Ballet is releasing a few little pieces here and there which help give an early glimpse into the world of Camino Real, the company's upcoming world premiere ballet based on the play by Tennessee Williams. We especially like costume designer Sandra Woodall's images for the characters, which could almost stand on their own as artistic renderings of Williams' characters.
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The play, and the new ballet, center on the character of Kilroy, a hopeful young American boxer who arrives in a sort of mythical, vaguely South or Central American post-colonial town called El Camino Real. In the lyrical and non-linear play, the people of the town include famous characters from literature and history: Don Quixote and his partner Sancho, Marguerite "Camille" Gautier (The Lady of the Camellias), Casanova, Lord Byron and Esmeralda (The Hunchback of Notre Dame).
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First performed in 1953, Camino Real was Williams' first major critical and box office flop: the play's failure was a huge personal and professional setback for the playwright, coming as it did after a string of enormous successes, including The Glass Menagerie (1944), A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Summer and Smoke (1948), and The Rose Tattoo (1951). Although the play was not a success and many theater folk still consider it impossible to produce successfully, it's also had its share of strong defenders, who consider the lyrical, unusual work one of Williams' best. ?? ?

A preview party at the Atlanta Ballet last week, including an in-studio mock-up of the complicated set design for the Cobb Energy stage, revealed that the ballet, like the play, will show different parts of El Camino Real, centering on a fountain in its central piazza, and its luxury hotel where the wealthy characters live (stage left), as well as its skid row with flop houses and a gypsy brothel (stage right). Choreographer in residence Helen Pickett also revealed that she plans to include some of the play's more unusual elements: Camino Real was one of the first major American plays to break the fourth wall, and as in the original production, Pickett plans to have some of the characters enter from the audience onto the stage. Though most of the story in the new ballet will be conveyed through dance, Pickett also plans to mic the dancers and to have them speak some of Tennessee Williams' lines from the play.
? More costume sketches below. For tickets and performance info, click here
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