Block 791: September 23, 2015


Well, happy first day of Fall, y’all.

Date: September 23, 2015

Crane: 791

Days Spent on Project: 946

Location: NW Portland, OR

Person I would have sent it to: TBD

Music I listened to while sewing: I’ve got Kelly Clarkson’s “Invincible” on right now! Well, I actually have the remixes of that song on right now… it’s the pop pick-me-up that I want/need right now.

She’s good at that.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: It’s 10 minutes until 8pm on this Wednesday evening, and I just poured a large glass of wine and I’m sitting on my balcony as I type this. My dog is curled up on one of his pillows next to my rocking chair. It’s completely dark outside; it’s obvious that the days are getting shorter. I believe today marks the halfway point between the longest and shortest days of the year, in fact.

I know I say this frequently, but– wow– has this day kept me busy. It flew by, and a lot happened, so it was a day of progress. That’s always good.

Started the day with two fittings for Show Number 2 with our second designer of the season. Then, along with the Operations Assistant and the Assistant Production Manager, we managed to finalize the details on an off-site storage space, rent a Uhaul, and get 13 large costume racks out of our “Fire Marshall Unapproved” Storage (FMUS) for short hallway (we lovingly call it “The Birth Canal”) into the storage space. I reorganized the FMUS into something that was organized, easily accessible, clear, and Fire Marshall APPROVED. I reorganized our Craftperson’s workspace with the new space that freed up… so she has more room to work and not endanger costumes. I did a round of online orders for clothes for Show Number 2. I went to the Board of Trustees meeting, where I was asked to give a presentation of “swatching fabrics” and talk about the Garment District and how great it is to have it as a resource. I also had a meeting with the Production Manager about labor budgets, which was great, because we’re now on the same page about what I think each show needs… and he basically okayed me to do what I need to do to get a few of these shows done on time (responsibly, of course).

All good things. So, I’m tired and not really feeling very guilty about taking it easy this evening.

When I think about it, and I’m NOT trying to be arrogant here, it’s becoming more apparent that the changes that have happened since I’ve come to this theater and started to manage their costume shop are being noticed.

Yes, people might not understand what I mean when I talk about the resources available to us (through me) in New York and how exciting it is for a designer to have access to fabrics other than quilting cotton, denim, poly-silk blends, and some sporadic wools. Yes, people might feel that I’m rushing when I say deadlines need to be adhered to and design decisions need to be made and committed to (this isn’t brain surgery after all– and I’ve assisted other designers who have no problem saying “This is what it is” or “This is what it would have been” or “This is what I want”– if you do the work, you shouldn’t have a problem knowing what idea you’re after). Yes, people might be overwhelmed when I say, “Yes, you need to choose the bra you want, the shoe you want, etc.” I’ve spent 15 years working as a designer, an associate designer, and an assistant. I’ve seen processes work. I’ve seen them fail.

There’s no reason for people to disregard the work, to come in unprepared, to avoid committing, etc.

In the past almost-three months of this current season, we’ve found a way to afford an off-site storage space, I’ve given a talk to the Board of Trustees about resources, I’ve been sent to New York City to bring resources back, I’ve convinced our Development and Marketing Department to feature the work of my employees later in the season by giving us money to create and display custom-made dresses.

Things are happening.

So, as I sit here on this balcony, with a window open and a now empty wine glass, I’m very much aware of the Opportunity that is peaking out at me (and my shop) this season. I’m aware I need to be careful and play it safe; money still isn’t growing on trees in the Portland Theater Community. But, it seems like there is an awareness, a hope, an excitement about what we’re doing now.

I think it wasn’t only me that needed the change back in July 2014 when I moved to Portland.

I think the theater might have also needed a change back in July 2014 when they picked me (and my dog) up from the Portland airport.

I think the need was mutual.

I think I’m starting to see that.

And, yes, I want to design. I want to create theater that thrills me (and hopefully thrills others). But, maybe– just possibly– my journey in Life was pointing me towards this path: I’m simultaneously designing, assisting, associating, leading, creating, managing, delegating, organizing, facilitating, collaborating (maybe not artistically, but I am collaborating as a leader with other leaders), socializing, improving, changing, and evolving here in and within and with this theater.

Yes, I believe I’m a good designer. But, maybe it’s possible that I was MORE THAN a good designer.

When I was 23 and applying to grad schools, I wanted my MFA and the training because I wanted to get to the next level. I saw the glass ceiling that limited me at that point in my life; on the other side were the adults designing and making the important decisions.

Now that I’m 36 and have worked in theater for 15 years, maybe I have achieved that end. I am designing and making important decisions. I’m managing.

Wine has a way of talking with me, but: maybe things will work out. Maybe not here in Portland for the long haul, but it’s possible that I’m where I need to be in the current moment to get me to my next moment… wherever- and whatever- that is.

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