The summer of 2011, between my 2nd and 3rd year of grad school, I went to work for the Great River Shakespeare Festival in Winona Minnesota as a First Hand. I would recommend working for this company to anyone. Yes, it’s in a small town and its not as well known as some festivals, but I had a really pleasant and enjoyable summer working with some really wonderful people. I wish that I could have gone back again but it has never quite worked out for me.
That summer the company produced three shows: Henry IV Part 1, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Fantasticks. The costume shop had one draper and two first hands. The draper was only there for the first 2 shows and assigned each of us first hands to a show. The third show was mostly simple builds and alterations so a draper wasn’t really needed and responsibilities were divided up between the two first hands. I was assigned to A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t work on Henry, I helped when that show needed help just as the other first hand helped me when my show needed the extra help.
Mostly what we made for the show were fairy costumes. Titania, Oberon, and all of the other fairies were made from scratch. Making these costumes was an interesting process. The draper and designer knew what the direction we were going was but how to get there was something to figure out. We ended up making base costumes and taking pieces into the fittings to pin in place and stitch down later. It was my task to guide the intern stitchers in assembling these creative costumes. They learned how to stitch stretch while simultaneously stitching inside of armhole and legholes. The rose to the occaision! Here are pictures of Corey Allen as Oberon, Kate Fonville as Titania, and Tarah Flanagan as Puck. Puck’s costume is very similar to the rest of the fairies, though the other fairies had some sprouting floral additions courtesy of the crafts artisan. The costumes were designed by Devon Painter
When it came to The Fantasticks, I made a few capes and a vest. Nothing fancy but after making the fairy costumes I didn’t really feel like I needed anything more. I was satisfied with what I had accomplished for the summer. But here is the vest that I made worn by Tarah Flanagan. Costumes for this show were designed by John Metzner.
I spent the remainder of the summer at home and working for the National Black Theatre Festival. My work there doesn’t get much mention in this blog because it isn’t costuming work. I worked NBTF in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011. It is a biannual festival in Winston Salem, NC that I got involved with through friends from home who also worked there. I word backstage there helping to get venues set up, shows loaded in and out, and various other backstage tasks none of them related to costumes. But it’s nice to change it up a bit sometimes. Doing something different every now and then feels restful and liberating in a way. And I love the people who I work with there. It’s a little bit of a reunion each time the festival comes around. When it was done, I headed back for my last year of grad school!