Block 505: October 31: 2014

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Happy Halloween, everyone. Missing the McKittrick and their Halloween party pretty badly this morning.

Wish I had somewhere to go tonight.

Date: October 31, 2014

Crane: 505

Days Spent on Project: 620

Location: NW Portland, OR

Person I would have sent it to: Jenny M.

Jenny was another costume designer that I assisted in New York. She had graduated from the Yale School of Drama the spring before I started my first year there, and I had the chance to assist her (briefly) during my first year when she was brought back to design a small playwright’s thesis project.

For that project, I made a Native American ceremonial costume out of ultrasuede. Super fun.

Anyway, back in 2009 and then in 2010, she called me and asked me to help her out with some projects. In 2009, I needed to help her out with research for a show that was going to open at the Goodman in Chicago- Animal Crackers (a la the Marx Brothers) and then also shop for a production that was opening in Hartford, Connecticut. A super small production, it was really straightforward and manageable.

The following summer, she called me to assist her on a show in town- at the Second Stage Uptown on the Upper West Side. Again, 4 people and modern dress, so very straightforward. I did spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to tattoo someone realistically in a small space though.

However, I learned from this second experience- in hindsight- that I was growing a bit too big for my britches, if you will. I had just come off of my second Broadway show, making the Union minimum weekly rate (which I’d kill for again), and my first Broadway experience had just been nominated for a slew of Tony Awards- and it would even win the Tony for Best Costume Designs for a musical (Yay, Marina!).

Because of those experiences, I was not better than I had been. I was not better than anyone else. I was not above projects. I was still, if I was going to work as an assistant, a grunt and someone who needed to do the mindless and tedious work. Yes, I was doing that and I did still enjoy doing that and I liked working with Jenny. But, for sad and arrogant reasons, I started to think that I was above certain jobs.

And I don’t think you ever get to be above certain kinds of jobs if you want to design or work in theater or be freelance. You always have to take everything and try to put your best product out there and your best face on and your best spin on the situations you’re in.

I think I learned that from Jenny. Not directly, mind you- she didn’t do anything that sparked that realization; I think my opinion of work started to skew at that point.

She’s now in Chicago, with her two kids and her husband. She still designs frequently, but I’m not sure what projects specifically or how the Chicago scene is treating her. Hopefully well.

Music I listened to while sewing: There are only two people working in the shop today (why did everyone want to take Halloween off?). It’s so quiet.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Well, yesterday was interesting.

I feel, well, how do I feel about life here in Portland?

I don’t know?

Honestly, I think there is potential to settle into this job, and I do think there is the potential to figure out a way to embrace working in a regional theater full-time instead of being a freelance designer. I think this year is going to be all about transitions, of course, so I should just take the time to experience what I can and really watch and evaluate what’s going on here and with me. Decisions can come later. Roots can form later, if they need to.

It is my wish, it is my goal, to figure out a way to bump up the game here a little bit.

I don’t want quality to be the exception. Yes, quality work does happen here. It does. But, I don’t want it to seem as haphazard as hoping lightning strikes the same place twice.

Next year- heck, the next few months when planning for next year really starts- will be interesting. I have an opinion about things, and hopefully people will listen. Hopefully people will ask. Hopefully people will want it… because I’m starting to give it.

We’ll see.

Anyway, on a brighter note… the Tumblr account for this project was featured somewhere. I don’t know where or how, but in the past 24 hours, I’ve amassed over 4000 new followers.

The people who’ve reached out have been very complimentary about the project.

That… Well, I know that felt nice.

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