Sandra Barton's 'Doctor Faustus' Costumes will Amaze You!

Dr. Fautus Publicity ImageCSU, Chico's production of "Doctor Faustus" will feature costumes of ghouls, demons and other creepy characters designed and created by Sandra Barton, longtime Music and Theatre Department staff member.

In creating the costumes for “Doctor Faustus,” Barton was inspired by the reemergence of southern backwoods occultism and tribalism. Characters wearing dark clothing torn to rags and sewn together like animal hides will stand alongside characters in Mardi Gras smoking jackets and alligator skin dresses.

Masks resembling devil-horned deer skulls as well as otherworldly beasts — are sure to inspire in audience members images of sun-bleached animal bones and demonic creatures. Each mask, though similar to the other masks, has its differences in horn structure and facial expression allowing the personality of the demons to shine through. The costumes and masks will work together to help the audience and cast to make the transition from reality to the demonic world of “Doctor Faustus.”

Designing around quick costume changes, demonic landscapes and historical characters is a challenge, said Barton. “Doctor Faustus” has a very finite cast compared to the number of characters that need to be portrayed so many of the costumes have been designed to either fit over or under other pieces. In order to make the costume changes simpler while still maintaining the character changes, many of the characters in the “real world” will still possess aspects of their demonic selves.

“[All of the team members] need to stay on task and move in the same direction,” said Barton. “Cohesion is difficult but vital.”

When it comes to the general process of designing the costumes for “Doctor Faustus,” Barton has taken descriptions from the text and adapted them to fit the animalistic and demonic world that the set designers and cast members have created. She also tries to incorporate the different actors’ style into the individual pieces.

“Sometimes actors will say, ‘I want to try to do this’,” said Barton. “And I try to help them by making their costumes reflect that.”

Although it’s often difficult for the audience to see every aspect of what has gone into a production, Barton hopes that viewers of “Doctor Faustus” will be able to see the connections to history and modern ideas that she and the rest of the team members have tried to weave throughout the play. 

Barton has been a professional custom dressmaker and designer for over 30 years and has worked as a costume designer and costume shop manager at CSU, Chico for the past 20 years. Barton also studies jewelry making, painting, sculpture, art history and graphic design. The philosophy behind her costume shop is to “work in harmony with other faculty and staff in a student centered shop to produce quality theatre that will ultimately enrich our lives.” Off campus, Barton is a freelance costume and fashion designer for various theatre, dance and clothing companies throughout California.

“Doctor Faustus” will be staged October 15-20 in CSU, Chico’s Wismer Theatre. For more information please read the online press release for this event.

Advance tickets, at $15 general, $13 senior citizens, and $6 students/children, are available at the University Box Office located at the corner of Third and Chestnut Streets. Tickets are also available online or by phone, (530) 898-6333; additional $4 handling fee for phone and online ticket purchases. Add $2 for tickets purchased at the door. For special needs seating, please call (530) 898-6333. 


Top Image Caption: A costume that one of Lucifer's minions will wear in CSU, Chico's production of "Doctor Faustus."
Photo by Sean Chen.

Bottom Photo Caption: Sandra Barton (left), Department of Music & Theatre Costume Shop Manager, makes adjustments to the costume student actor Jasmine Sarwar will wear in CSU, Chico's production of "Doctor Faustus."
Photo by Cierra Goldstein


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Story by Anne Stanley, School of the Arts Publicity Assistant