Costume shop!

I’m costuming a local fake-shakespeare production for an Evening of Coarse Acting.

(The Coarse Acting plays were written by Michael Green in the 1970s and 80s. They are short plays representing typical community theatre fare: murder mysteries, tense wartime dramas, Shakespearean nonsense tales of girls disguised as boys etc. The point is that all of these plays go wrong. Set pieces fall, actors get stuck in endless loops of dialogue, the costumes are hot-glued together and all tights are saggy at the crotch and baggy at the knees… if you’ve ever sat through a bad play, you will get the jokes!)

‘Costuming’ may be a strong word for what I’m doing! I’m turning sweatpants and tablecloths into knee-britches. I’m building lasagne-pan armour and fake swinging boobs.

I’m going back to my roots.

My first costuming gig ever was a community theatre production of The Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr Abridged.
I had never costumed a play before, and was soon way over my head converting old Halloween costumes and cheap-ass broadcloth into quick-change costumes for a cast of three playing about forty roles. I ended up making a lot of dresses for my husband-to-be.

Little did she know…

Did I mention I didn’t own a sewing machine a the time? And didn’t know how to operate one. And was afraid of sewing machines.

After a few weeks of floundering and hand-stitching, a neighbour loaned me an ancient Kenmore and I learned to machine- sew on the fly.
Don’t ask me how, but I pulled it off, and all the actors fell in love with me because I laundered their disgusting tights and shirts every night and even febreezed the wigs.

My greatest compliment came from an experienced film costumer who caught the show and said I had a good eye for design.

Flash forward a few years, and I was paying for my BFA pressing shirts and making petticoats for the university theatre company. I spent the summer before my wedding living in a trailer, patching up old rep company wigs and washing sweaty dance thongs for a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

This current project is KILLING me, coming in on top of Mother’s Day at the shop. Another case of saying ‘yes’ before really looking at what the task would entail.

It’s funny though, I can feel the old me coming back, the one who would bite off more than she could chew and just muscle through all the work that needed to be done, improvising and learning along the way. This morning over breakfast I whipped together a costume out of an old towel and a length of leftover cotton jersey…and still made it to work on time. I think I’m getting back something I lost along the way.

Yes, my floors are dirty and I haven’t been to yoga class in ages, but you know.. it feels good to jump in to a bit of chaos again and force that creativity to the top.

Have a lovely weekend, all. It’s a three-day holiday for us Canadiennes, eh? Happy Birthday Queen Victoria, and thank you for this Monday off.


2 responses to “Costume shop!

  1. I love this, mostly because I can completely identify with thriving on the chaos. Funny how we do that.

    And also, I think you point out something really important here: as writers, it’s so important for us to exercise OTHER forms of creativity too so that we don’t get stuck or locked in. Doing so gives us more experience and creative ideas to then apply to our writing. It all works together.

    (I’m so behind on everything bloggy. Just catching up, and hope you’ve been well!)

  2. There’s a lot more bitchiness due to lack of sleep than when I lived in this kind of chaos in my 20s, haha.

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