Block 581: January 18, 2015

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Drank some red wine last night. Promptly slept in until noon. Today is perfect.

Date: January 18, 2015

Crane: 581

Days Spent on Project: 699

Location: NW Portland, OR

Person I would have sent it to: Heather S.

Heather was the company manager at Paper Mill Playhouse. She was in charge of getting us all our paperwork, getting us hotel reservations for the week(s) we had to move out to Millburn/Short Hills for tech and previews.

I have this impression that I knew Heather before the Paper Mill experience. She might have been someone I worked around at one job at some point in my life, but I can’t remember exactly what that would be.

Company Managers have such a hard job… trying to herd all kinds of people around and make sure they’re taken care of and provided for and well enough to do the work for the length of their contracts.

She was at Paper Mill for a while; I worked with her on Newsies, White Christmas, and part of A Chorus Line, but I do believe she ended up leaving Paper Mill for another job after that third show for another life challenge. I believe she’s in Massachusetts, still working in theater.

Music I listened to while sewing: I’m sitting in a Starbucks right now, in downtown Portland, so I’m listening to a generic “jazz” playlist that’s underscored by lots of steaming coffee machines.

I know it seems kind of antithetical to the Portland experience to drink so much Starbucks here, but whatever. It’s familiar.

And I have a gift card. And the baristas know what my order is going to be when they see me walking in the door, so that’s awesome. And personally fulfilling/needed.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: There’s a video of me going around on Facebook, talking about my designs for the show I just opened on Friday in Portland.

In a way, it’s a huge relief to know that some people in the theater see the costumes and like the work enough that they’re highlighting it and using “the costumes” to market the show. That’s a big confidence booster.

I’m proud of the work I did. I know I could do more work like this. I know I can! The validation is great.

But, it’s also great for other reasons. I’m learning that, here in Portland, there’s less understanding of what costume design is than I anticipated. From what I hear from audience members, most people assume the costumes are sent with a show- like it’s a part of some touring wardrobe package (“You bought the rights for the script, here are the clothes too!”). People don’t seem to understand that in the costume shop, there are people employed whose job it is to take a sketch or a piece of research and start to realize it to fit a specific actor’s body.

Selfishly, I want to use these moments to advocate for the shop and get us more support from the community. We need more labor. We need more resources. We need more space. Yes, the shop is a nice size, but there’s no room to grow. There’s no place to store costumes. There’s no way to use costume storage for rental needs (which is such an easy way to make money! Why does no one see and understand that?)

I want to raise the expectations here.

I don’t know who had my job before me, and I understand he was overworked, but I am nothing if not ambitious and it’s time to push ourselves a little more.

I keep hearing that we’re one of the biggest games in town. Why not deliver on that more consistently?

Anyway, it’s nice to get the validation that people like the work. It’s nice to hear the audience audibly respond to certain costumes during the performance. We did good work. Now I just need to keep finding ways for us to do good work consistently and effectively.

Tomorrow is Martin Luther King day, so the theater is “closed.” No one is working. I find it so weird that regionally, theater people get holidays… whereas in New York it was always about working until the job was done and then working some more to get more work.

Anyway, peace out and enjoy Sunday.

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