Monday, October 1, 2012

Opening this Friday.. leave wits at home

Here it is October 1st and I haven't posted since the end of August.  A few days ago, Peter Lappin (Male Pattern Boldness) commented on MIA bloggers who dropped out six months ago.. where did they go?

Sewing for theater is unlike anything that one might consider normal for sewing.  It is sewing for fantasy .. for an instant when a garment makes illusion plausible.  It is a black worn-with-holes London Fog raincoat that helps the audience pretend the character is a policeman chasing our hero by climbing out the window of a moving train and hanging on the outside of the car for dear life in blowing wind and rain.

After opening night, I will write about the steps of making the costumes for the 39 Steps.  For now, I'll leave you with a tantalizing picture of the stage curtain I made.  The theater itself is a thrust arrangement.  This play calls for a proscenium arrangement, so the stage crew (of volunteers) built a faux proscenium complete with upper level side boxes .. the characters play the part of audience too.  The stage crew had bought 40 yards of fire retardant 118" wide curtain fabric, but the sewing of the curtain was estimated to be $500+.  This is BIG money in community theater.  So I volunteered to make the curtain.  I thought it would be a simple hemming job and done, but this would have looked like hanging a bed sheet.  The fabric guy told the stage crew that a 3" box pleat with 12" centers would look good.. try figuring out the math on how much fabric it takes to make two curtains 12' high and 20' wide (each) with 3" box pleats on 12" centers.  Answer 50% more than the width.  Do you know what it's like to cut 118" wide heavy fabric into 12'+ lengths, sew seams that long, and then sew box pleats from 30' of fabric down to 20'?  It took about 12 hours to lay out, measure, cut, and sew the fabric.  It would have taken less, but I had troubles with my sailrite sewing machine.. not the machine, me, the dumb sewer who got used to the way a Pfaff works.  And Peter wonders why bloggers vanish into the night? 

The curtain is ready to open.  The curtain itself plays a part in the play.  It completes the illusion of a real stage.

If you're wondering, most of what I've done is alterations to old clothes.  I've made a few pieces that could not be bought or rented at any price .. like a black & white striped ascot.  Actually, a pair .. one for the actor and a another for the dummy.  I don't want to spoil it, so I'll say no more.  Come to the theater to see the 39 Steps.. study your Hitchcock so you won't miss a thing.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I hope the community theater people bought you a dinner or at least a cold drink for that great work.