I’m going to begin this post with a confession: Wardrobe Mistresses – and Masters – scare me. Especially when they’re in their natural domain.
Earlier in the week (before becoming ill and then having an allergic reaction to the antibiotic I was given – it’s been a long week…!), I visited the costume department of a local theatre to hire costumes for The Crucible. It was an extremely productive visit, with almost all female costumes sorted in one go, and a fair start made on the male ones. The show should look great.
But back to my confession… Now, you must understand that I have huge respect for those who work in the area of costuming – and, indeed, I am immensely personally fond of some of them; so far, for example, for this production, I have had help and advice from a costume lady/friend who worked on many productions with me when I was Head of Drama in a school, as well as from the lady who costumed me when I played Abigail myself, who I have known since I was about four years old, and who is the mother of a wonderful friend of mine.
So, why the fear?
I suppose it’s because costume ladies and gentlemen, especially when we are together in the actual wardrobe department, make me feel like a very small child again.
Most of the time, I can pull off the role of “convincing grown-up”. OK, maybe I’m never totally “convincing”, but I move around and interact in society as a 30-something woman and am fairly comfortable with this. Put me in a wardrobe department, though, and decades fall from me. As we pick out costumes, the costume ladies and gentlemen say things to me like, “All this needs is to be taken up three inches or so…” or “You’d need to add a lacy frill to the neck…” or “The sleeves need to be lengthened…” or “You could adjust the waist a couple of inches and then add a train to the back…” And I smile and nod and think, “No I couldn’t! I couldn’t do any of the things you suggest, you clever, capable, confident costume person, because little old me can only just about sew a button on and, of course I’m not proud of it, but that’s the way it is!” And I leave feeling about 6 years old.
So, there you go. That’s my confession and its explanation. I feel better for sharing. Thank you.
And costumiers of the world, I salute you!