Sorry the picture is a little blurry!
Date: March 7, 2014
Days Spent on Project: 383
Location: Apartment, Washington Heights, NYC
Person I would have sent it to: Christopher S.
Christopher was the third director in the year ahead of me at the Yale School of Drama. My second year, I was assigned to design the clothes for his thesis production, Hedda Gabler by Ibsen. At the time, I was incredibly excited; it was a period show (Victorian!), I’d get to have dresses built by the shop (swoon!), and it was Ibsen (!). I loved Ibsen at the time.
I don’t know where or when or how it went wrong, but it did.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the past nine years thinking about what made that production a significant life event in my life, but it was and it is and it will probably be so for a while. There are a few shows in my life that have left marks on me, this production of Hedda is most likely the first one to do so in a major- and permanent- way.
Christopher is a director that makes strong choices. He has visions of what his productions should be. Those qualities in a director aren’t bad or wrong; they are, in fact, signs of good directors and good productions. So, it’s with a heavy and conflicted heart and mind that I write here that it was not a good experience for me.
Looking back, I understand why some choices (that I made) weren’t great. I lacked the actual vocabulary to talk about period clothes and dress construction and fashion to really push my designs where they needed to be. Looking back, I think I was more enamored with the idea of “period” than the “actual period.” I admit that. However, I have come to the understanding in these nine years that my choices then did not and DO NOT make me a bad designer. I now have more of an understanding of clothes and fabric and construction. I get how it isn’t wrong to be inspired by something and then deviate from it. To make the choice to evoke a period, to skew period details, to mash up ideas, to move away from the real… those aren’t bad choices. You just have to make that choice and then realize it as best you can.
So, that Hedda, in 2005, will always be a dark spot in my life. In ways, it was a turning point. As a designer, I felt like a failure and I thought everyone else saw me as such; I believed I needed to be better and I worked hard over my remaining time at the YSD to make myself a better designer. I didn’t want to be bad.
As a person, I felt crushed. I was crushed. I lost something then and it took me several years to really understand that. I’m still dealing with repercussions from that show in my daily life and habits and esteem.
I don’t think I’ll ever live that show down, even though it’s been forgotten by most everyone.
Music I listened to while sewing: Today, Spotify suggested an album by Swarms, called “Old Raves End,” based on my frequent listens to Fort Fairfield. It’s good… but not Fort Fairfield good. Maybe.
Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: I learned so much yesterday.
I learned that I do have a sense of color and balance and proportion and character. I should trust what I want to do.
I learned that my presence on set or in a theater or in a shop can be helpful. Sometimes you have to be around to catch things before things are undoable.
I learned that sometimes people will want your opinion, but will only want you to say, “good job…” even though there are a myriad other things you want to say.
I learned that sometimes you should say “good job,” and then follow it with “can I ask some questions?”
I learned that expectations can be unreal.
I learned that sometimes people are waiting for you to make the first move.
I learned that there is no reason why I couldn’t be the one in control, leading the ship. However, I did not learn yet how to graciously step into that role.
I learned that I really do feel a bit desperate right now.
I learned that going to the gym is really helpful.
I learned (remembered?) that drinking coke isn’t something I should do. Period.
I learned that a lot of people don’t write very well.
I learned that I’m really thankful to have gone to Kenyon and had that liberal arts experience and was expected to write and read and discuss all the time.
I learned I have so much that I want to do with my life. I worry that none of it is possible.