Tag Archives: costumes

All The Things

26 Feb

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This just in: Kids like food fights. 

…The Student matinee this week (our 10th show in 11 days so far), was full of Elementary fidgeters,  College ASL reps, and Teachers…which showed obvious divide in content appreciation until it came to the giant breakfast battle, wherein everyone became immediately 5 years old and hypnotized by the fact that two people were slopping around with this much goop on total purpose. 

…How much we consume and throw around on stage is pretty staggering, frankly, (as provided by our tireless prop-mistress, and cleaned up by our beautiful tech team), and contains as follows:

50 biscuits, 5 dozen scrambled eggs, 5 packs of mashed potatoes, several pans of fried potatoes, 75 pieces of bacon, one bone-in ham, 30 corn muffins, 2 cakes – one coffee crumb,  one white chocolate ganache-drizzled, 5 bags of green beans, 4  glasses of milk, many pitchers of water, and several  fistfuls of candy.  PER WEEK.

…I dunno where the hell that skinny  kid puts it all, or what keeps her from puking all over everything when I continually haul her up by her guts and fling her around…but I know I’m certainly taking in the bare minimum as necessitated per the scenes. Just keeping water down with that much action in a corset is pushing it at times, but the point I suppose is that the bulk of it never makes it in a mouth at all… rather becoming graffiti about the stage, smashed into costumes, crumbed on blankets, plastered on floors and table tops, sludged on chairs, my sunglasses, our hair, and (with amazingly few instances) audience members.

As to the amount of damage we do, relocating intermission became a necessity…cutting the show in such a way as to show a fairly set divide between the more humorous and youth-filled first half and the exhausted, dogged-and-determined second.  As our run stands, the nightmares which have haunted Annie in spurts begin to slam at her directly at the top of act two, launching her further into self-doubt and a sense of impending failure if not for solving a total lack of discipline from her pupil (and most importantly her constantly-placating family.)  A cut I originally disliked, (but obviously understood the reasoning for), I have now with performance, begun to embrace. 

…What this means is a shift from prominent physical battle in act one, to mental battle in act two…though both are present throughout the show in fits and starts. Act two has become where the bulk of the “acting” comes in…where the weariness and battle of inner demons comes to the front over fists of food and face slaps, and it is also the only instance in the entire show where we are able to tackle the words of the piece without being slammed with the constant technical work going on all around us.  One scene… with just myself and the Kellers in a room with no walls, no furniture, not a single prop to be seen.  Just three people: working organically off one another, passing the ball back and forth as we fight each in our own way, for the soul of this small person. 

…It has become my favorite part of the performance.  Not for the gravitas and tears shed…but for the lock-and-load workmanship with two fine actors who know their shit, and don’t ever let go of their particular rein and purpose and intent no matter which way they get pulled  by the other two in the scene. 

…None of which should show disservice to my Helen.  You couldn’t if you tried.  She’s a regular ball-buster of performing determination. 

…But after chasing her about non-stop for over an hour, it is nice to selfishly stand on my own two feet – upright off of the floor—face two seasoned pros, and play a game of emotional poker to see who will win THIS night.

The emotional and physical demands are great, and the stakes are high for all of us in this show, but there is something to be said for the simple joy of speaking well-written words on a stage with nothing else but the story and your scene partners to guide you and make you become better at what you do, than when you first started the night.  No other “special effects” are required.

Thanks, guys.

~D

14 Costume Changes & Some Acting

29 Aug

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Bit of a clothes horse, me.

…An option of fitting a first dress in before tech was jumped on, so we could focus on one horrifying onslaught before a tidal wave of others come in to cream us this Saturday. And so, a first dress was had. Last night. And it wasn’t particularly brutal on anything except my feet (dear three and four inch heals…you’re assholes. It’s a good thing you’re cute.)

….Anyway…we charged ahead, I broke some things, we managed line-call-free, fit in all my 14 costume changes, and called it a late night for the first time since we began rehearsals…but we DID it, which I think is the important thing to focus on at this point.

…At this point.

The last time I did a two-hander show was “Oleanna”…again: a professor and a student, having at one another for two hours of stage time. Just me: just him. That’s it, folks.

…The amount of focus, LISTENING, line retention, blocking and prop movement is insane. It REQUIRES nothing less than 100% lock-and-load on the other actor…so that no matter what choices/accidents/line-flubs/enlightenments/emotions are flying around through the air between you…you are a one-entity receptor.

…It’s like ballroom dancing, in a two-hour-long competition, where we both take turns taking the lead, changing styles from fox trot to samba to waltzing seamlessly, at any given moment, and attempting to do it all without one single misstep. Your anchor is in the eyes of the other guy…you make the audience phase out into the wallpaper and bookcases of your world, and together you begin on step one…and it never ends or eases up until the curtain goes down.

…And we know this from experience. As even before costumes and props were added, every break has been filled with line running and blocking, since day one. We don’t pop out of focus, we still can laugh, take a slog of water, and a quick slash…but damn if we’re not still running a monologue while in the loo, walking blocking while feeding from a water bottle on set, or futzing with props ad nauseum. Because we have to. And that’s okay. Because we happen to really fucking love it, you know?

…Like really. A lot.

Difficult is good. Frustration can be tempered and recycled into something better next time, thanks to the lessons you’ve learned. And when you click with a character who you know in your guts…who you can access without interruption in mind or manner…it’s a fantastic ride to be on. Even more so when you trust…really TRUST the team behind you, and that guy right there opposite you, on stage, every night.

…Even on the days of frustration and energy-sap…even when I know there’s more we can find in a moment (and we will, next time)…there is nothing lacking in the team work…in the connections we’ve made, in the amount of fight it takes for two people to command the stage alone… lifting words from a page, into something exciting and wistful, amusing and dangerous, hysterical and poignant, witty and humble. It’s an honor, a challenge, a fucking hell of a ride.

…And every night, when it’s over, the realization comes crashing in, on the ride home…as the adrenaline drains from every pore: and complete mental and physical exhaustion smacks us stupid with inevitable result. We are totally…right now…this second…living an actors dream.

Hells. Freakin.’ Yes.

Bring it, tech week.

~D

The One Where They Start Throwing Money

11 Nov

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Strange how much not like a whore I feel today, being as Corporate finally folded and started throwing greenbacks our way to get us to stay.

…It is a small amount, but larger than we realistically thought they would offer, is set retro-active to the day Boss walked out, and will be the FIRST of a PHASE of raises, impending this year, as the office continues to restructure.

…Which means: I don’t have to keep looking for a job anymore (the worst second full-time job EVER) and I’ll be able to actually pay ALL my bills now, (instead of just running a bastardized Lotto system every month to see who wins all the bucks THIS time.)

Huge giant leaps in the world of less stress…I gotta tell yuh.

…And not only THAT, but the WHS Pimp (acting head of OPS) decided we should split the branch bonus every month instead of just accruing it himself…so a certain someone might even be able to stuff some bucks away now…or like, you know, opt into a retirement plan again (which I haven’t had since my young 20’s.)

About. Fucking. Time. (Says I.)

About. Fucking. Time.

…So, that happened last week.  Along with the usual other work shit…which strangely is a lot less stressful in retrospect with a couple of bucks in your pocket.

In Other News: Inappropriate Beavering continues. I have my first Beaver fitting on Wednesday…which (I have to admit) is slightly terrifying. You guys, they took circumference measurements of my head. And also: we have tails.

…In my brains we look something like adults in furry footie PJs, and those knit beanie caps topped with animal ears, with a four foot plastic shovel sewed to our ass. During fight call last week (wherein I was given a weapon of a rolling pin, that I obviously haul around with me always and merely need to pull outta my Beaver pocket to use as needed), we discussed the concern of tail room in general. With the 30,000 children in this show, the possibility that it WON’T be stepped on (and thus rip my whole butt off at some point), is pretty slim. They had thought of this ahead of time, I guess, as we heard that we will have amended, smaller tails, which just changed the pictoral in my head to look something like a gopher with a giant cling-on poop coming outta his butt.

…Which reminds me…

…At some point we elder Beavers were like, “Um…what the hell kinda noise does a Beaver even make?” So, naturally, I went home and YouTubed Beavers. Which pulled up a whole PLETHORA of range in info…not all of which has to do with Beavers at all. And no, I’m not just talking about sexy stuff. I’m talking about the worrisome amount of adults WORLDWIDE who don’t know the difference between an Otter, a Groundhog, a Ferret, and a Gopher. Seriously. Most of these people were at Zoos…with their children…where the animals are LABELED in various languages. And yet there is clip after clip of Moms and Dads talking to their three-year-old about how cute the Beavers are, when any idiot can read that they are (in fact) Prairie Dogs.

…But after I was done worrying about the poor and utterly misinformed children of idiots, I spent the rest of the time watching National Geographic clips and fucking hilarious Canadian beer commercials.

…Meanwhile…never once finding out the kind of noise that a Beaver makes.

Apparently, it is an unsolved mystery.

Science may NEVER find out.

…So, I think I’ll just make some shit up and go from there.

…This is what we call “Improv.” And is a totally legit thing to teach our Baby Beavers. Unlike the stupid people who scar their children for life by taking them to Zoos and calling Giraffe’s “cows” and shit.

The end.

~D

A Quick Breather

10 Sep

Office paint chunked all over my fingernails, horrendous day, still set up in the warehouse as a slipshod work space, as the real ones are still stripped and dripping with paint.

…Also, I lost my toilet today, and sink. This is the world I am living in while processing over $100,000 in orders since yesterday morning.

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…Finally had a blowup at Boss today about his total lack of facelift help, prep or even acknowledging its existence by helping us out a little. By doing *anything* at all. Even his own job.

I felt no better afterwards. It’s gone beyond releasing frustration, to fix the stress.

…Meanwhile, am off tonight while they dry tech “39 Steps,” up north.

Apparently our fog machine just died.

…I dunno why they are using the fog machine during a dry tech to begin with…unless it’s for establishing their own sense of eerie atmos, while writing cue numbers in their call book, but whatever.

…One hopes now that they know it’s broken, they fix it, and everything is good to go by tomorrow.

Last rehearsal was a good one, lotsa work and specifics…also, my first toss with the German spy costumes (most difficult), and ended up working fine. Very few adjustments needed, and I was expecting a small train wreck of them, so this is good. Though the teddy will be ousted in favor of a full black slip (for death stab apparatus anchoring.)

…Incorporating new oompf to her as well. Found some goodies mid run, with the costume actively feeding the scene bits. It is weird how much a pair of fishnets, some long, velvet, black opera gloves, and a slit in you dress up to the who-ha can seriously influence a character.

…Can’t wait to see the wigs.

Blonde, brunette, and redhead.

All in one!

Booyuh, babes!

~D

Things That Go “BANG!,” And Mournful Bunting

4 Jul

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Home early from The Fella’s, and In-Laws. Stone. Cold. Sober.

…I’m sure this in not how the Founding Fathers intended America’s biggest party day of the year to end, for me.

But here I sit. 

…Because work is tomorrow, (after a Holiday sales blitz), with the beginning of a weekend full of shows riding it’s ass, like white-on-rice.

I feel I planned well, in-all, as plenty of drinking happened earlier in the day to offset the not-having-any-later, deal. Plus, having eaten half a cow and a lot of pig (with incidental greenery on the side), I think absorbed all the residual alcohol, and/or coerced it into helping break down all the stuff in m’guts, soon after.

…Which is basically a “workout,” if you look at it in some ways. (Like the world where ice cream doubles as your dairy qualification for the day.)

The amount of food I’ve had across these past two days, does worry me a bit.  Not so much in the fact that I won’t fit into my costumes…(that’s what a corset is for)…but that it will be exponentially more uncomfortable to be squeezed into them.

…But I haven’t totally ignored my responsibilities in that realm. I did manage to run lines today with The BFF, (as in days of old), to  keep verbally fit and ready for tomorrow. And as part of my coming-home-early-to prep-for-tomorrow bit, finally fished out my tights from the show-bag, where they have lazily resided all crumpled and stinky, since last Sunday. 

…And now, as I listen to endless pop-rockets, snap-dragons, and gunpowder bangs outside my window, clean black tights hang in their place along the shower rod…drooping like mournful, wet, bunting.

There is something strangely satisfying in my bathroom being taken over by show laundry, hanging to dry. 

Tradition. 

…Harking back to centuries of other show people, from Vaudeville to the legit stage, who have done it before me, and will long, long after I am gone. 

Some things never change:

…The late-night excessive banging of illegal fireworks outside your bedroom window on the fourth of July…and prep, the evening before your next performance, being two of them.

Happy Independence Day, friends!

~D

Gwendolen & Cecily Mexi-Fro-Yo

16 Jun

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This evening, Gwendolen invited Cecily over for some girl time. 

…This turned into six hours of multiple short walks, fajita cooking ventures, a fro-yo run, visiting a Hollywood celebrity, eating, watching part of a movie, swilling some wine, and talking about a lot of everythings.

Given how much they achieve in merely two-hours of stage time, it is to be expected that they can easily fill six additional hours with no problem in the least.

…And never manage to run out of conversation.

…Or cake.*

Opening week is now behind us. 

…I’m told we held at the initial weekend average attendance of 77%, putting us already in the black.  And only one of the reviews has come out.  So with the heavy press hit this week, we should be livin’ sweet come Thursday.  Patrons this weekend were buying out entire seating sections for bringing more people to see it again…which I think you will agree is a very good sign that we are on task for putting smiles on faces.

…And the people who don’t smile are prob’ly vegetarians anyway.*

Off now, for a bit of a rest.

…Our costumes, for a bit of a dry-clean.

And as Jack’s face is removed from everyone’s blouses, jackets, and trousers, the women breathe corset free for three whole days.* 

…Not that we mind the restrictions so much as the heat and hideous post-show markings they leave on our bodies. Like canvas-sacked prunes.

…Which is basically how I feel right now.

Back to the Pilates n’ walks again, starting tomorrow. 

…And (I suppose) start looking at the lines for the next show.

…But first: BED!  SLEEP!

And a Monday.

~D

(* show joke entered here.)

It Worked! Now What Did I Do?

11 Jun

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Pin pointed some good moments tonight. 

We all did.

…Working our asses off, never looked so esthetically pleasing.

…Nor as funny on apparent total accident.

(It is no accident, these people are funny.  And so is the show.)

Tonight, trying some new wardrobe changes in act two had me doing my hair no less than three times for the evening.  My scalp was a bobby pin nightmare by the end, but it was totally worth it, and I’ve now been locked-and-loaded in all my visual incarnations.

Gwendolen is a very specific creature of very specific style and accessory.

…Which makes owning and flitting about in it, (as if one did so all the time), a total necessity.  And I’m riding that wave tighter every night.

As is usually the case, the rest of the “her” I was looking for, showed up with the costumes, hair, and intimate props.  These are always my final touchtones to the characters I play, which means I am fussy about them, and endlessly futz with them, because they must ultimately become so virtually a part of me, that there is absolutely no question as to the form and function of each and why they are a part of the tool kit the character uses.

…Meanwhile finding “the final look” is often a work in progress.  Fine tuning, rearranging, and adding small details are what seperate the men from the boys in this field…each step of which, influences the actor and their work.  And because this is the late Victorian era, there is a hell of a lot of “detail” to be tuned into.

Much like Oscar’s verbiage, it is not a matter-of-less is more, or more-is-more, but rather: ostintatious-is-the-ordinary.

More of everything, including fringe, lace, jewelry, prints, pillows, tea, and accessories, Art Directed in such a way as to appear completely normal in form.

…And once that is added, the actors adjust, work, and incorporate accordingly.

Due to the total difference in hats and new alterations in costume tonight (for instance), this means I’ll be doing two completely different coifs each performance. 

Because Oscar is a wise man…and no doubt realized what it takes for a woman of the period to change and prep and do such things…I have around 30 minutes (including an intermission) in order to achieve it all.

Plenty of time.

…If still a monster task.

…And the result is (even if I do say so myself) supremely smart, therefor totally worth it.

It is all totally worth it.

…When you hit those moments, the sweet spots, where everything just seems to fall into place, and everything becomes just a little more supremely delicious in texture, and line, and look, and delivery; when you are truly playing with another person on stage, with all the rules assembled, but the open possiblity of surprise sizzling in the air between you: that is what it’s all about.

Finding that with people you didn’t even know three months ago, still blows my mind with wonder.

And the friendships that come with that requirement of total unflinching trust, is what builds the real joy in what we do.

At least it does for me.

Applause ain’t even half of it.

~D

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