Siena Zoë Allen is a New York City based costume designer whose work is centered around reinvention and adaptation. She is most fulfilled carving out new lives for stories both classic and obscure, and reimagining them in worlds seductive and consequential. Themes common in her work are dreaming, memory, and future: spaces unique to all that can be designed uniquely every time. With an investment in sustainable practice, she believes design is born out of what you see and how you make it. Zoë is one of this year’s Princess Grace Award Winners and recipient of the Pierre Cardin Theater Honor.
My Julietta is based on a memory of visiting my grandfather in a senior facility in Japan. He had a shrine to his wife on the dresser, and when my mother asked who it was for, he said he didn’t know. He could no longer remember her. I’ve taken this opera about memory, and reimagined a Michel after my grandfather: a man who can only escape his cold, gray reality in dream, the place where his memory and his wife are still alive. I’ve designed an hourglass on a red string at the heart of this journey and the design – sand defines our dream time, and the red string of fate draws Michel closer to Julietta until finally she appears. She is the light he follows deep into the subconscious. In the end he must choose: will he stay in dream with her or return to reality?
This is my short film adaptation of the Edo period fairytale Princess Hachikazuki, reimagined as a time-traveling journey of self-discovery. We meet the modern highschooler Princess Hachikazuki as she receives a final gift from her dying mother: a bowl placed over her head that cannot be removed, a sign of protection. This completely shuts Hachi off from the outside world, where she becomes increasingly isolated. Unable to tolerate her reality, Hachi flees from the palace and accidentally plunges into the moat; when she’s pulled out through a sheet of ice, the waters of time have born her into a new reality. In Edo period Japan, she must make her own way. With the help of a fairy godmother, Hachi begins to understand and accept herself, and finds that true love can be forged without sight. From the bowl to the moat, this story is guided by circles, cycles, and portals.
Adapted from a published manuscript of children’s fairytales by Urokogataya Magobei during the Edo period.
Airline Highway is the story of a community on the brink of great change and possible extinction. The matriarch Miss Ruby has demanded a living funeral be conducted while she is alive, and her chosen family must grapple with what her life and death will mean. I knew this story demanded a picture of an ordinary community that becomes extraordinary. We start at a neutral baseline, the thrum of daily life, but watch as they use their limited resources to transform into bright, jubilant celebrations of life. When they eventually fall to their vices, the celebration is stripped; we’re left looking at individuals caught in a moment of pregnant transition between death and the dawn of a new day. This show was designed with sustainability at its heart, and relied heavily on secondhand garments that have already lived another life.
Colleen Murray '22
NYU Tisch Grad Acting/Design
Jack Crystal Theater
Alcina was written in 1625 by Francesca Caccini, and it is the only opera of hers to survive. That legacy, of survival is integral to this story and my design. As written, this story follows a goddess, Melissa, in her rescue of warrior Ruggiero from the island of enchantress Alcina. I have reimagined this and fondly call it my Eco-Opera; my version follows Greta Thunberg, a young climate activist, in pursuit of Ruggiero, a climate scientist ensnared by the goddess, Alcina. This tension between the modern and ancient is the foundation of my story as Alcina has enchanted the Great Pacific Garbage Patch into a seductive Paradise. Greta arrives to illuminate the consequences of blissful ignorance while pollution thrives, and Alcina’s island devolves in a fiery explosion. In the aftermath, Greta, Ruggiero, and his crew, are covered in oil and garbage, safe but shining a light into an unknown future.
I’m so eager to work on stories that interrogate our sense of “what if?” and Fahrenheit 451 has always held that for me. I remember first researching this project, and looked up what a firefighter looked like at the time of Bradbury’s writing; it’s easy to imagine these firefighters as dystopian warriors. My version takes place in a near future Earth, one nearly depleted of all its resources; one where we didn’t heed the ticking clock of climate change. Oppressors rule under the guise of community service; these firefighters look like avenging angels, beacons of light that become covered in the soot of their good deeds, saving citizens from the threat of books. Guy realizes this fire is false, and the light worth protecting is young Clarisse and her future. His realization and escape from this regime leads to a return to nature, overgrown, taking back what has been devastated.