I wasn’t actually a tried and true costume designer for Our Town.
I finessed the costumes for the production as the co-directors actually did a lot of the designing and selecting pieces the actors would wear. I provided a final eye for any additions that would help the actors pop on stage (while not being a distraction because the focus is actually not a majority of the ensemble–this is actually harder than you can imagine). I watched four performances leading up to opening night and acquired a few pieces that helped identify the actors for either their multiple roles or distinguish timeline changes in the show.
I’ll be honest–I dropped the ball a little bit. Not that this makes it any better or justifies my lack of action, so did the one co-director who I was making arrangements with to be on staff. I was asked to be the costumer during the beginning of 1940s and I pushed off any follow up for this production until it was done. But then the holidays started and Dixie Swim Club was starting its preparations. And I was still a bit embarrassed over how I came to offer and provide my services to this production.
This was the show I was going to audition for in October but upon reviewing the performance schedule determined I could not dedicate myself to the production since I’d be away during tech week for my first half marathon (and we all know how that ended). I feel like, as I write this post, that I am making excuses for not being as heavily involved as I could have been in this show. A bit of guilt. Unnecessary(?) guilt because the co-directors had a plan, were able to implement it, and I still provided some value to their production.
This experience was a good test of my need to control every item of a costume design. When my name is attached to something, I take it pretty seriously. My name, my intellectual property, represent who I am and how I continue to obtain these opportunities is from the work I’ve done. I don’t like asking for help or letting people help me–despite their best intentions and capabilities. When the co-director and I finally did make arrangements for me to join rehearsals, upon my return from vacation, the costume plot was done.
What was my point in attending? To assist where they were at a loss. I am fortunate that because I was not yet embedded in the production, I could fill in the few blindspots that the two directors were experiencing with certain outfits. My intent and attendance was not to blow everything out of the water for the show, especially the week of opening–I was there to provide a support structure and affirmation of a job well done. I give an extreme amount of kudos and credit to the ladies, they did a phenomenal job–there were very few things I had to do.
I was relieved of some of my anxiousness and I internalized the remainder because, well to be frank, at this point there wasn’t much I could do about it. I could’ve been more engaged with making arrangements to meet the cast, production staff, or even just the directors alone, and been more a part of the design aspect. But honestly I am more grateful for how it turned out in the end. I learned that it is not always necessary, although probably highly recommended, to be as involved in costume designing. Sometimes you just need to be a consultant and yes-man.
Now, by yes-man–I mean that voice of reason and agreement for the ideation, especially if it helps balance and support the show and intent. That doesn’t mean holding back a critique or not providing a suggestion. My name is still applied to a production and I want to provide my service to the best of my abilities–an accurate and excellent representation of the directors intent on stage through the costumes.
Long story short, I am grateful for learning to trust in the abilities and design of others. It’s not only going to help me be successful in community theatre, but it’s also going to be useful for my real life job. I won’t be able to thank K and M enough. Well, I think I prattled on long enough. Feel free to ignore my caffeine induced rage above, ’til next time.