Posted September 19, 2016

Temple alumna designs for Fringe Festival

For this year’s Philadelphia Fringe Festival, alumna Natalia de la Torre takes on designing costumes for three performances.

Dancers lifting each other up on stage with purple lighting.
Photography By: 
Daniel Kontz
Natalia de la Torre designed costumes for Almanac Dance Circus Theater’s acrobatic folk-music space epic Exile 2588. Performers: Nick Gillette (left top), Nicole Burgio (right top), Mark Wong (left bottom), Lauren Johns (center bottom), Ben Grinberg (right bottom)

Natalia de la Torre, TFM ’06, is a little busy this fall. As the 2016 Fringe Festival—a citywide celebration of innovation and creativity in contemporary performance—takes over Philadelphia for more than two weeks, three different performances are taking over her life. In the best way possible.

De la Torre is the costume designer for Almanac Dance Circus Theater’s acrobatic folk-music space epic Exile 2588, Revolution Shakespeare’s politically relevant King John and Team Sunshine’s long-term performance experiment Sincerity Project 2016.

Here’s some insight into her Fringe life, how she relates to velvet and even some advice for Temple students.

Have you worked with previous Fringe Shows before?
Yes. My first Fringe show was right out of undergrad in 2006. It was the Fringey-est of Fringe shows. There was a real band, we cooked food on stage and gave everyone [in the audience] frito pie and PBR. I had to get all of the food every night for the frito pie—like 150 frito pies. It was a ridiculous amount of work but the show was so cool. It was a good entrance into Fringe-y theater.

Why is Fringe awesome for artists?
The Fringe Festival gives anyone who wants to put on a show or performance the opportunity to do that. Anything and everything you could possible ask for is here—you can choose whatever you want. It’s 24/7. There is theater everywhere, all the time. It’s great. 

Have you ever designed costumes for acrobatics before?
I haven’t, but I’ve done a lot of physical-type theater and a lot of dance, which is a serviceable base for something acrobatic like Exile 2588 because of the need for the clothing to stay together. It can’t just look pretty and get through one or two dances. It needs to withstand performers physically ripping at each other, throwing each other across the stage and spinning on the ground.

If you could do anything else in the theater world, besides being a designer, what would you do?
When I was in high school I stage managed before I knew what stage managing really involved. If I had to, I could stage manage with the full understanding that I would probably be a bad one. 

At Temple, I worked in the set department as a props master. I painted sets for four years and built props—I always really enjoyed it. That’s my better answer, but if I’m not allowed to do anything artistic, I would be a bad stage manager.

Because you’re a designer, if you could match one material to your personality what would it be?
That’s a good question! I asked my best friend, and she said I am velvet because it’s luxurious and elegant...and that’s something else I don’t agree with. *Laughs.*

What advice would you give to a Temple student?
Get off campus as much as possible. Main Campus now has so much more now, but when I was a student I’d go off campus to go grocery shopping every week on South Street or at Reading Terminal Market. Temple is so different now, but since I would get off campus every weekend I got to know the city. It’s important to see all the neighborhoods, not just Center City and North Philadelphia. 

  •  A group of dancers bracing to catch another dancer as she does a trick in the air.
    Exile 2588 was performed at the Painted Bride Art Center in Old City, Philadelphia. Performers: Nicole Burgio (in the air), Lauren Johns (left foreground), Nick Gillette (left background), Mark Wong (right foreground), Ben Grinberg (right background) Photography by: Daniel Kontz
  • A woman doing a handstand supported by two men.
    Performers: Nick Gillette and Ben Grinberg (faces), Nicole Burgio (top) Photography by: Daniel Kontz
  • A woman hanging from a trapeze bar.
    Performers: Nicole Burgio (trapeze), Nick Gillette, Ben Grinberg, Lauren Johns Photography by: Daniel Kontz
  • A woman hanging with one arm on a trapeze bar.
    Performer: Nicole Burgio Photography by: Daniel Kontz
  • A man supporting two dancers.
    Performers: Lauren Johns (top), Ben Grinberg (face), Nick Gillette (facing away) Photography by: Daniel Kontz
  • Two male dancers holding a female dancer upside down.
    Performers: Nick Gillette, Lauren Johns, Ben Grinberg Photography by: Daniel Kontz