Monday, January 7, 2008

Mrs. Warren - Jan. 7th

January 7th

Monday. First day off was spent locating various stores. A Sally’s Beauty Shop, Target, Party Store, Dollar Store, Food Lion, etc. Bought more opening night gifties.

Tues: Costume fitting first thing. Fabulous, fabulous. Reams and reams of muslin in gorgeous pleated folds. They actually make an entire mock up of the costume in muslin before doing it for real in the fabric of choice. I can’t imagine having to sew such a thing TWICE let alone once. First the corset is laced up the back, then the petticoat/bustle - over the head? Then - oops - always, ALWAYS must remember to put the boots on PRIOR to the corset. Else you can’t bend over to lace them up. (Mental note to put a yellow stickie on dressingroom mirror to remind me of such.) That’s why all those Victorian women had such lovely postures and also why they fainted all the time. One always (if one has any sense) puffs one’s chest out like a startled blow fish when being fitted in a corset - else you won’t be able to take a breath on stage. Costume designers want their outfits to look magnificent, but they oft' forget that one must breathe when wearing them. An actors’ comfort often becomes secondary to the design. I need - above all - to have the ability to project my voice to the back of the house, and I can’t do that if I can’t get a full diaphragm of air. So - I become a blowfish during my fittings.

Prior to the fitting I got myself on the stage to check out the lay of the land. Quite a balcony. Must remember to keep me ‘ed up (my head up), else expressions will be lost. And make sure that the vom pillar is taped or smoothed. It has a bit of a jagged edge. Experience has long ago taught me that when you’re in a floor-length, petticoated, bustled, corseted, hatted, gloved, parasoled costume, it WILL catch, inevitably, on SOMETHING. There’s just too much of you for the allotted space. I expressed such concerns (which kept me awake last night) to our director, suggesting that all edges of the stage platform be made especially smooth. Been there, done that too many times, when you’re walking up a step and you’re snagged. And silk tears very easily for all it strength. I also mentioned this to our costumer. She made a note to keep the hems tight.

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, the costume. Haven’t worn one of these in quite a long while. They’re quite spectacular looking, but a royal pain to deal with. Once the whole thing was on, I looked like a female centaur - put a tail on my backside and you could ride me with that extension of a bustle. Fortunately Kelsey had a collapsible, accordion-type bustle constructed. So when I sit, I don’t take up the entire length of the bench. So glad she did. It’s my challenge to look like it’s the most natural thing in the world to be in this get up. To make it look easy, when it is anything BUT. And another blessing is that there won’t be any train on it. The set is very constricted (slip stage small) and inevitably people (especially the men) would be treading all over it. I’ve never ever been in a show where I had to wear a train when the men did not step on it. And it occurred to me only recently that perhaps the same was true in those days when this type of clothing was normally worn. If we can rehearse with such gowns for hours and and it happens, it must have happened back then too, no? Or did people just know to keep a natural distance between each other? I don’t know. Anyway, if there is any treading on dresses to be done, it will be by my own self in this case, I think. I must remember to stand up fully before moving, else I’ll step and trip all over my own self.

Worked on the 4th Act today. We need pacing and dynamics and tension and high stakes. At the moment it feels like we’re just talking AT each other, and that’s death for an audience. Well, we’re still struggling with lines, so that’s an excuse. But we’re an amorphous blob that cries out for specificity, and I feel like we’re just repeating the same old blocking. This set is very limiting because it’s minimalist and not realistic and there’s only so much patterning you can do. Everything is somehow too safe. We must create some danger. We must make it ALIVE. Currently it’s just a group of people having interesting drawing-room conversations and we must break through that. If our hearts don’t beat any faster - neither will our audiences.

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