American Players Theatre
5950 Golf Course Road
P.O. Box 819
Spring Green, WI 53588
Box Office: 608-588-2361
The Quick Chat series is where we dive into the life and times of APT's finest. Each interview will supply insights ranging from the obviously relevant to the vaguely strange. This week features Engaging Shaw Costume Designer Daniel Tyler Mathews.
APT: Hi Daniel, how many seasons have you been at APT?
DANIEL: Seven seasons!
APT: Tell us a little about yourself: Where you’re from, where you live now and what path led you to APT?
DANIEL: I’m from Nashville, TN and now live in NYC. I came to APT very strangely, I had interviewed to be an assistant designer but I was quite inexperienced so they hired a returning person. Very last minute, that person couldn’t do their contract (literally two weeks before our big Design Conference meetings). So, I got a call asking if I could step in. I had a very steep learning curve to overcome - Assistant Costume Designer is a very challenging and unique job at APT - but I was welcomed with open arms and spent that season learning the ropes.
APT: What were your first impressions of Engaging Shaw?
DANIEL: Engaging Shaw feels like three different kinds of plays upon first read. At times it feels like a Shaw play, mercurial and funny in a very intelligent way. Then it can feel very farcical and ridiculous in situation and action. And then sometimes it’s quite serious and emotional. So, there’s quite a variety of tone.
APT: What drew you to design for this production?
DANIEL: I’ve always wanted to work with David [Frank, the director], and this cast. I’ve assisted on shows David directed and I enjoy the way he dissects a play and his collaborative nature. The cast is a dream team and, while I’ve worked with them all before, it’s truly a joy to create clothes for their performances.
APT: What has been a challenge of designing for Engaging Shaw? What has been a success?
DANIEL: The challenge is that these are very real people in a very heightened period of fashion history. On top of that, each character has their own kind of contradictions, and it’s been challenging to navigate the period while remaining ‘real’ to a modern eye AND serving the contradictions of character. I think we have been very successful in transforming Jim into Shaw, and that is largely thanks to Becky Scott, our wig designer who painstakingly designed and created Shaw’s wig and facial hair.
APT: What is your next project after Engaging Shaw?
DANIEL: I’m designing several new musicals in NYC this winter, but my next project at APT will be Macbeth next summer - directed by Jimmy DeVita.
APT: Why do you love coming to APT?
DANIEL: Everything at APT is deliberate and considered. You really have to be a critical thinker to ‘play ball’ at APT. And that is at once challenging and very fulfilling. It feels like everyone is invested and interested in ‘the work’ in a way that’s actually quite rare in American theatre. I never feel like anyone is ‘just getting through’ their job, when that’s my normal experience on other projects other places.
APT: What are your hobbies outside of theater/how do you like spending your time?
DANIEL: I sadly don’t have many hobbies! I do like being outdoors and hiking, and I’m an amateur baker and cook. Living in New York, one of my favorite things to do is just explore the city. There’s so much, you can never possibly see everything in NYC. But outside of theatre, I spend a lot of my time designing and creating custom clothes for clients and also for myself.
APT: If you could live in any fictional house, what house would it be and why?
DANIEL: It’s not fictional, except in that it doesn’t exist anymore, but the original owners of Bergdorf Goodman (a department store on Fifth Ave in NYC) lived above the store in a very lavish three-story Victorian apartment. I would love to live there, I’m not sure it still exists as an apartment.