When last we met, I was extolling the virtues of summer stock theatre, that magical place where you build your skills as a performer, meet fascinating (and not-so fascinating) people, and try very hard not to embarrass yourself at the closing night party. But what if you’re not doing stock, what if you’re in the City (or elsewhere) for the summer, not necessarily performing? What should you do with yourself all summer?
What a feeling! You get that call on your cell phone, and you’ve got a job for the summer doing theatre. Someone is ACTUALLY PAYING you to do theatre! What a rush! What a high! What the hell do you do now? What is summer stock, really?
Clothing is the most intimate and relatable design element in theater. Everyone wears clothing, and everyone has opinions about clothing. Often what we wear says more than any words or actions do: who we are, where we’re from, what year it is, how much money we have, how much money we want other to think we have. These are just a few stories clothing tells in real life and onstage, making the relationship between the actor and the costume designer one of the most important. As you share your discoveries of your character, the costumer can share theirs and you can build a strong character together if you follow five simple steps.
“You are terrifying!” came the enthusiastic greeting as I stepped into the post show lobby. . I had grown used to it by then, and knew from the grins on the faces of this pleasant older couple that it meant they’d enjoyed the show. I smiled back sheepishly and offered a genuine, though bashful thank you, trying to distance myself somewhat from the character I had just played. Each night, I even made a point of dressing up more than usual when I went to the theatre. This was my first production in a new city, after all, and I wanted to be sure that everyone knew I wasn’t really a sociopath.
Community engagement must be a part of every theatre-making process. There is no theatre without an audience. The audience is as much a part of a play-making experience as the artists—so how do we incorporate them more actively into what we do? We must work with them – and I’ve learned, in so doing, that working with the community teaches me just as much or more about the play on which I’m working than anything I do in the rehearsal room or on stage.