Costume sketches and descriptions by Loyce Arthur

In the Red and Brown Water costume sketch of Oya by Loyce Arthur

For Oya, the athlete and track star, the director Caroline Clay and I first saw her in white. I was partly influenced by Caitlin Clark and the women’s basketball team for her look, however, the color of the costume has changed as part of discoveries during the rehearsal process. The Yoruba Orisha that she is named for is associated with the burgundy color and one of her aspects is the wind. I chose burgundy for her shoes to suggest that she “runs like the wind.” I leaned into more of the color for Oya’s final costume. 


In the Red and Brown Water costume sketch of Elegba by Loyce Arthur

Elegba, also known as Elegua, is the trickster Orisha, whose colors are red, black, and white. In the play he is a young man full of fun. I design a costume for him the suggests that he is always ready for fun, a good prank, and a good party. 

In the Red and Brown Water costume sketch of Ogun Size by Loyce Arthur

The character Ogun Size is associated with the Orisha Ogun who is characterized as rigid and strong, much like the metals he presides over. In the play the character owns a garage and therefore is the master of iron tools and engines. His colors are green, red, and white. His costume reflects how hard working he is. I chose light tan for his coveralls instead of white, (not practical), red, (too flashy), or green, (too close to Auntie Ele’s costume). 


In the Red and Brown Water costume sketch of Mama Moja and Auntie Ele by Loyce Arthur

Yemọja is the major water spirit from the Yoruba religion. She is the mother of all Orishas. She is also the mother of humanity. She is an Orisha, in this case patron spirit of rivers, particularly the Ogun River in Nigeria, and oceans in Cuban and Brazilian Orisha religions. In the play this Orisha becomes Mama Moja, Oya’s mother. I chose water and ocean blues for her costume. 

Auntie Ele, is associated with the female aspect of Elegua, also known as a “trickster” and is portrayed as both being very young and mischievous as well as very old and wise, encompassing the varying paths and phases of fate and life. Eleguá’s colors are red, black, and white, however I chose green for this character leaning towards the wise, earth motherly, aspects of the character. Because she also has a mischievous side there are also touches of red and black in her costume. 

In the Red and Brown Water costume sketch of Nia and Shun by Loyce Arthur

The character Shun represent Oshun, the Orisha who is typically associated with love, and sensuality and the color yellow. She, like other gods, she possesses human attributes such as vanity, jealousy, and spite. In the play Shun essentially steals Shango from Oya. I chose sexy, flirty, looks for her and her partner-in-crime and fun, Nia. 

In the Red and Brown Water costume sketch of Shango by Loyce Arthur

Shango is a powerful Orisha, with a voice like thunder and a mouth that spewed fire when he speaks. He is a brilliant warrior and dispenser of justice. His colors are red and white. I saw him as an athlete like Oya, who always dominates on the basketball courts. 

In the Red and Brown Water costume sketch for Garin by Loyce Arthur

Garin, the lead dancer, embodies Ochumare, the Orisha who is the spirit of the rainbow. Garin is also representing a follower of the Orishas and is costumed in the white blouse, skirt, and headwrap that is a blend of clothing found in African, European, and Caribbean traditions. Inspired by lavish 17th, 18th, and 19thcentury  aristocratic fashion, the voluminous silhouette also incorporates African elements like turban headwraps. The liberal use of white represents the traditional Yoruba color for female deities and purity. In Spanish and French parts of the Caribbean “Creole dress” was worn by freed woman (also slaves) on Sundays and feast days, consisting of a floor length skirt over a white cotton chemise, trimmed at the neck, sleeves and hem with lace. A white handkerchief was wrapped around the head. 

In the Red and Brown Water costume sketch of O Li Roon by Loyce Arthur