Ready or Not
For my first fourth year project I decided to adapt the 2019 horror-comedy, Ready or Not. The story follows protagonist Grace on the night of her wedding, caught in a deadly game of hide and seek with her new eccentric and wealthy family. I felt drawn to this project because of the opportunities it provides for costume and setting. Taking place over one night I felt would lend itself to a stage production, much like An Inspector Calls, as this aids in increasing the tension that the impending dawn brings. The wealthy family of the Le Domas’ also made their wealth off of a board game empire, which is an interesting avenue for design development. As this production takes place over one night, the characters all only wear one costume. However, in her attempts to flee, Grace’s wedding dress gets increasingly destroyed and dismantled, providing the ability for me to design for multiple versions of the gown. I also wished to do this project as it offers an opportunity to increase my breakdown skills, which I feel will be an important element to add to my portfolio, as well as the historical element, albeit 20th century.
While not changing the main plot of the original film, I planned on reworking it in a number of ways. The first being to change the era it is set from modern day, to 1950’s America. My reasoning behind this is because as the Le Domas family made their wealth off of board games, I wished to incorporate the designs and aesthetics of vintage board games into my character designs. Much like the board game Cluedo, the story takes place in one house, over a single night, because of this each family member has the time to become a fully realised character, with different goals and personalities. By taking the architype of the perfect rich American family that was popularly depicted in 1950’s advertising and pairing it alongside the horror aspects of the film, I feel the juxtaposition would be compelling to an audience and fit with the comedy aspect of the story.
Another aspect I changed is the medium of the performance from film to stage. I decided to change this as I felt the story would have more impact within the closed off environment of a theatre. The claustrophobia Grace feels within the story, being unable to escape the house would be felt on a greater level within the confinements of a theatre. This would also offer the opportunity to use the aisles of the stalls as passageways and corridors of the mansion, increasing the audience’s involvement and the suspense of not knowing from where a character will appear. I similarly wished to set the stage to emulate that of a board game board. Using the set to project the rooms and house layout much like Clue board. By using projected footprints to show the whereabouts of characters, the audience can see when the Le Domas family come close to catching Grace, or when they pass unbeknownst in a corridor. To illustrate this, I created a set box.
The costumes are 1950’s evening wear. While Grace and her husband Alex wear correct wedding attire (e.g. Wedding dress and Tux), the rest of the family are not dressed as formally. This is to reflect their distain for Grace, a poor orphan who ‘stole’ their son away, but also because the wedding takes place at the house, with very few guests and is portrayed as a casual affair. The wedding itself only takes place because Grace wishes to be part of a family, something she has never had. This aspect of the story opened up a larger range of costume opportunities for the male characters, whom would historically all be wearing similar outfits.
This project is a dialogue of the class differences, and entitlement of the upper classes. Grace fights against them and wins, despite all the tools they have at their disposal. Locking her in the house and hunting her without even changing from their elegant dresses as they feel it to be an easy task. The aesthetics of pairing a sophisticated dress with an axe or crossbow I felt played into the horror-comedy of the film and illustrated the ridiculousness of what is happening.