Block 552: December 17, 2014


Snow White continued.

Date: December 17, 2014

Crane: 552

Days Spent on Project: 667

Location: NW Portland, OR

Person I would have sent it to: Eric R.

I’ve been on a huge Facebook-friending kick recently. If I worked with you in New York and we were friendly, if we did theater somewhere else and got along, if I’ve known you in Portland for these few months, you’ve probably gotten a Friend Request. Because of this– going through Facebook’s algorithms of possible connections and relations– I remembered one person from the past that should be thanked.

Back in 2010, after our first Wardrobe Supervisor on Fela! left during the summer months, a new wardrobe super was hired to take control of a situation that was spinning a little out of control. Things weren’t being cared for. Organization was a little lacking. People weren’t communicating very well. Costumes were falling apart and needed replacing.

Eric R. came in and took over.

We all knew, in those summer months, that Fela! probably wasn’t going to become a Theatrical Phenomenon (we lost out on the Tony that year to Memphis- that win would have helped push us to a slightly safer place), but we still needed someone in the wardrobe department to make sure things were taken care of and looked as awesome as they could. After all, we did win the Tony for Best Costumes that year.

So, Eric wasn’t involved from the beginning. He was taking over for someone. But he still managed to improve the care and maintenance of those costumes. And he was nice. And effective.

The night before I left New York City to fly to Toronto for Priscilla Queen of the Desert’s out of town, pre-Broadway try-out, I was backstage at the Eugene O’Neill Theater. Eric had called me to look at one of the costumes, to question whether everything was ready for a new performer. In those last months, the producers secured a deal with Patti LaBelle to play the small– yet still important– role of Funmilayo, Fela’s mother. Eric had a question about a certain garment; I think he wanted to know if it was what *we* really wanted.

So, for that concern, for taking over a position that needed help, for caring for clothes that were a little run down and very tricky, I’ll have to thank Eric R.

Music I listened to while sewing: I’ve got Beyonce’s recent album on again. “Pretty hurts” is on repeat.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: I am so TIRED TODAY.

It’s 8pm in the evening on December 17th, and I’m just now getting to writing this post. I made my Crane this morning, a little exhausted and slow, knowing that today was going to be a little stressful and that I probably wouldn’t have much time to think about this project until late in the evening. And so here I am.

So busy. So tired. So satisfied though.

I have to say this: deep down, in my heart of hearts, when I think about what I am and what I do with my life, my first response is that I design costumes. I’m a costume designer. I work on costumes. I make costumes happen. I help costumes get on stage.

I want to design costumes. I like working with drapers and first hands and stitchers on making clothes. I like talking to actors in fittings. I like discussing with people the language of clothes and how that can shape a show’s aesthetic. I like this work.

I enjoy that I’m designing this show. I like the challenge and the work and the dialogue of it all and the conversations we’re having. This is what I want to do.

Because of this, because of this, I wonder how long I’ll be okay working as a costume shop manager. Yes, it’s a taxing job and there is a fair amount of work, thought, stress, and responsibility that goes into it, but the work, thought process, stress, and responsibility I crave is the stuff that comes when you stare at a blank sheet of paper and have to interpret research that you’ve been memorizing into an outfit that will help an actor disappear into the skin of someone else. That’s what I want to do.

This job- shop managing AND also designing this show- is an opportunity. I’m very much aware of that.

I want, and I need, it to lead to other things.

First and foremost, I dream of being the person who creates the problems, the solutions, the ideas, the work, the designs. I want to design clothes. I want to create as a theater artist.

I don’t just want to simply itemize receipts and schedule work hours.

Here’s to dreaming. Here’s to working towards something big and better.

You know why I miss New York still? Even though working freelance in theater is incredibly hard there, there always exists the hope, the possibility that an opportunity might be around the corner. Yes, it’s a hard life, but you always have an awareness that SOMETHING might happen.

I miss that blind hope.

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