Thursday, March 28, 2019

Act One

There were over fifty cast members In Stone Academy’s production of “Fiddler on the Roof”, some of whom played two or three different roles, each requiring a separate costume. As if that Herculean task wasn’t enough, Stone parent Virginia Falkner had to wear many hats in her role as costume designer. First and foremost it was of the utmost importance to pay close attention to detail, respecting the Jewish culture represented in the play. She also had to play the role of engineer/magician, helping design the apparatus that went along with the costume for the nine foot Fruma-Sarah. Even more terrifying than the scene which features the ghostly apparition, was witnessing the trial run of her costume. I’m happy to report that the costume and the three student-actors it took to inhabit it survived the play unscathed. It goes without saying that much of the credit for the look of the show belongs to Virginia. Here, she shares the joys and a few of the struggles that are part of one of her very many roles at Stone. 
My first year of costume design at Stone was for “Once on this Island” where the costumes consisted of sarongs all tied in different manners, a very simple solution but effective for the tropical setting. But my job was just cutting large rectangles of fabric. Over the years our costume budget increased as the plays got more complicated; lions, mermaids, pirates and fairy tale characters to name a few. Each year there would be a costume that would be hard to get just right; mermaids in “Peter Pan” and Humpty Dumpty in “Shrek”. Often those become my favorite costumes in the end. The poor student who played Humpty Dumpty was so anxious to get his costume. Unfortunately it was the very last to be completed after three failed efforts but I think we both loved it in the end. Sometimes there are costume fails like the poor student whose pants ripped with the complicated choreography (luckily it was in dress rehearsal and we got them re-enforced for the show) and the bottle dancers whose bottles didn’t stay on their heads until the very last dress rehearsal. We then went through 3 shows without a fail! It’s been fun to work with the students on their costumes. In many cases the kids will be skeptical about a complicated costume but then see the effect and really bring the character to life. It is interesting how the costume can really help the kids feel more like the character and bring on the personality. The costumes for “Fiddler on the Roof” seem simple since they were regular clothes, but it was important to find things that didn’t look modern, but fit the time and culture. When you put all the students together, costumes can be so powerful. Seeing them in pictures always makes me happy since in the moment I sometimes only see the tiniest little issue!
- Virginia Falkner

No comments: