Monday, July 01, 2013

"Our children, and our sins, lay on the King!"

"Let us our lives, our souls,
Our debts, our careful wives,
Our children, and our sins,
lay on the King!"
William Shakespeare, "Henry V" Act IV, Scene 1

The genius of Shakespeare has long been discussed but I have found an instance of it that I cannot allow to be lost in the conversation about Costumes.

While re-charting the costume changes for the Paper Wing Theatre's production of "The Tragedy of MacBETH", I noticed that King Duncan is in 3 scenes and then gets killed (we have added that as a scene). “King” MacBeth is in 3 scenes and then gets killed.

The Bard had a distinct sense of symmetry and one might even conclude that he is making a statement that all “Kings” are the same. There are many scholarly resources that I could look into for more evidence of the playwrights views of the monarchy, but time is too short - I rely solely on the text.

This is just one of many intricacies of the play, but one that is not so obvious until you see it on a COSTUMES CHART!

By the way, I am in my last week before Dress Rehearsals. It's exciting, scary, thrilling, and TIME-SENSITIVE!

Friday, June 21, 2013

"Double, Double, Toil and Trouble" - The Three Weird Sisters Get Clothed

Ha! You thought, from this title, that the Three Weird Sisters in our production of "MacBETH" were naked didn't you?! If so, you were a victim of a double entendre. The word "clothed" in this sense means "to be covered in cloth" as opposed to "to wear clothes". This is the sort of wordplay that I ADORE in Shakespeare and in real life... ehem! But I digress.

Happy was the night when I wrapped the witches in cloth. In my previous post, I discussed the horror I was feeling at cutting fabric without having my actresses in front of me so the relief I now feel is great! Though I have more to do, I feel much better about my progress.

In the next day or two I will be handing off projects to our seamstress. This is a new situation for me as I have always been the only one working on projects of this sort (with the exception of the exceptional help my husband has been through the years). I will be getting a feel for what type of work she does and that will help me to know what I can hand off.

Today's Plan
Get info about Seamstress
Run through revised script
Account for each Character (already in progress)
Account for each Player (already in progress)
Account for each Costume Change (already in progress)
Account for each Costume Piece (already in progress)
Design "mini-LOOKBOOK" for "Apparitions"
Discuss "Apparitions" with Director
Work with actor on costumes for King and Siward
Work with actors on costume questions / issues
Begin plan for Soldiers' costumes

This is a LOT! This is basically how I spend everyday. No wonder I'm not sleeping. Up until last week, I was able to "sleep, perchance to dream" the answers to my present and pressing questions. Now, being sleep-deprived and stressed, I find the answers are coming to me slower. THAT is why all of the forms that I have created and maintained are so critical - they are my lifeboat in this turbulent sea - they are the blueprint to the House of Beverly MacBETH!

Oh! One thing to add to this list... PROPS! I must get together with the Director to discuss the PROPS as they pertain to costumes. Whew! That's a biggie!!!!!!

Be sure to check out the Links I have on the right sidebar. There are some new ones, and all of them are fascinating!!!!

And here, for the scholarly students of Shakespeare (ehem!), is an excerpt from the immensely interesting (scintillating) website, SHAKESPEARE RESOURCE CENTER regarding a double entendre in MacBETH.

-   /  -      /      /    -     / -  /
The curtain'd sleep; witchcraft celebrates

Here again we see a trochee following a caesura in a standard Shakespeare variation. Curtain'd sleep in this context is a double entendre that plays upon the literal meaning of bedcurtains and a more figurative meaning of "veiled" that suggests hidden from consciousness. Celebrate denotes the solemn performance of rites rather than its more festive connotations with which we associate its use.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"But screw your courage to the sticking-place..."

In my last post, I discussed some of the important reasons to become intimately familiar with the characters in the play. I can now report the downside of that. Once you have a design in mind based on a character, it is a difficult process to change when the character suddenly morphs into another type of character. I can give too much detail here, but let’s just say that a character who did relatively little movement has absorbed another character who must have a very good range of motion. ACK! The costume that the original character was to wear worked because he was “restricted” in movement. This same outfit will positively NOT work for this added feature. What’s at stake? The aesthetic!  As I mull over the possible remedies to this, I’ll continue this post.

I was able to go into the Wardrobe one evening. I spent three hours pulling down assorted clothing and accessories that the Paper Wing Theatre had accumulated over the years. What joy I got from pulling down “that full length gown” and “those crazy suede pants” then determining if they would fit into the the Play’s aesthetic that was forming in my mind. I pulled out about 20 pieces that I thought would work. At the end of the evening, the Director gave me the green-light AND a rack for show clothing. WIN!

Next came shopping! Shopping has been ridiculously FUN and rather dangerous. Now that I had my strong aesthetic (there’s that word again) in mind, it was easy to walk into thrift stores and fabric stores with firm purpose – only to buy what I KNOW I needed and NOT to buy stuff I MIGHT need. Knowing that the budget is small helped in that regard, and in some ways I think of this as a type of “Project Runway” challenge: How do you find beautiful fabrics in big lengths for almost no money? Or just as hard, how do you find ready-made clothing for pennies?

The answer to these questions came from my favorite thrift stores. Goodwill stores in Seaside and Monterey had interesting selections but the real winner is Last Chance Mercantile in Marina. Here I stumbled onto a sale of “All Clothing $1”. #SNAP It was a Bonanza! White shirts, dresses, sweaters, suede and pleather garments to cut up… I was in Heaven!

I brought these things to the theater and put them on the rack with the other pieces. As I put them up there, I was sure to label each piece individually with the name of the character that it would belong to. Later that day, as actors came in, I had them try on the various pieces. Shockingly, all but two pieces fit the players. Of the two that did not, the one dress for Lady MacBETH was too small and was crucial. The other dress was for Lady MacDuff. This dress was small in the bust area but a simple short length of fabric pinned in the back will extend it enough to be quite lovely. Then the scarf that I use to accessorize it can be secured to hide the panel. Problems solved.

I have solid ideas for the lengths of fabric I purchased, but I am having a terrible time cutting them. I don’t mean that they are hard to cut, but that making the first cut to the fabric is mortifying because they are so beautiful! They are GORGEOUS! What if I make a mistake? MacBETH asks this of Lady MacBETH, “And if we fail?” to which she asks, “We fail! But screw your courage to the sticking-place, And we'll not fail.” While I’m loathe to take advice from such a person, I did find the works to be motivational. The “We fail!” reminded me of my motto, “FEAR NOT!” and with that, I cut fabric.

I’m at a point now where I realize it wasn't the fabric cutting, per say, that was freaking me out. It was the cutting it without the actors in front of me so I could double and triple check the measurements. The adage, “Measure twice, cut once!” wasn't available to me. I made one piece that night because I knew it would fit one of the actors even if a little big, but I refrained from doing any more. Tonight I’ll take the fabric, the scissors, the pins, the sewing machine, and the courage… and I’ll pound out the Three Weird Sisters costumes tonight!