Friday, September 16, 2011

No DOUBTS, just great costumes!

I haven't been a theatre consumer for a terribly long time, but one of the first shows that I fell in love with was a one act play by John Patrick Shanely called "Doubt".   Set in the Bronx in 1964, Doubt has a four person cast and an engaging story that leaves you wondering.  You may have seen the movie adaptation, which was written and directed by Shanely and (in my humble opinion) expands and improves the plot.  It doesn't hurt that it stars Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, two of my all time favorite actors. 

I was so excited when Stagedoor Productions decided to add this show to the line-up this season.  I pulled out my copy of the script.  I studied the parts.  I went to the audition.  I was not cast.  I cried.  And just when I thought I would have to move on, the DIRECTOR CALLED AND ASKED ME TO DO THE COSTUMES!!!!  Let's face it, that's where I'd rather be anyway.  SO, not only is it a period piece, it's a religious period piece.  Best of all, it's a religious period piece WITH HATS!  Hang on, I have to catch my breath.

Father Flynn, Sister James and Sister Aloysius
 So the Nuns in this story are from an Order called The Sisters of Charity.  Yes, they did wear bonnets, not the traditional habit you're thinking of.  Originally the Sister's bonnets were more in the style of a traditional Italian widow's bonnet.  But they evolved and eventually became much more like the Wenger bonnet that is worn by current day Mennonites.  In a historically correct world the bonnets would have had a wide, stiff brim that would closely frame the face.  Nice in theory, do-able on film, impossible on stage.  My bonnets had a longer brim, but after the first dress rehearsal we ended up folding that back.  I think making the bonnet was my favorite part.  I used a pattern (McCall's 4548), since I've never made a bonnet before. The fabric is a pretty decent quality cotton.  I have some printed fabric that I would love to make a few of those bonnets out of , but who really wears a bonnet these days?  The pattern also had the great dress with it, which I made in a lightweight cotton/poly blend so that the ladies wouldn't be too hot under the stage lights.  I think it moves pretty well, and it's been surprisingly wrinkle resistant.    

Sister Aloysius and Father Flynn
The capelet is made from the same cotton/poly blend and is fully lined. A capelet is a pretty easy thing to make, but I used a pattern.  Let's face it, when you can get a pattern on sale for .99 cents, it's just easier than trying to draft something yourself.  I believe the pattern was McCall's 3880. Please pay no attention to our good Father Flynn.  These pictures were taken at an early dress rehearsal and I wasn't finished with him yet.  

Finally, was Mrs. Muller.  I didn't make any of her pieces, I was lucky enough to find a fabulous coat in the high school costume closet.  I think the same coat has been worn in both a production of Annie and Foxfire.  The skirt I found at the Goodwill. It's wool.  I like the texture, which may not come through in the photo.  The little fur hat I also found in the closet, but the handbag is the property of one of the nuns.  She has a stash of costume pieces you wouldn't believe!

Mrs. Muller and Sister Aloysius
I still have three more shows left in this run.  I get to run the sound effect during the show.  Yes, it's just one.  It's a crow sound, and it's very important.  I think it's pretty crucial.  What's next?  I'm working with the same group on a production of Still Life With Iris.  Another great show.  Life is good!

1 comment:

The Holladay Family said...

Your work with fabric & paper is always fabulous!

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I am wife to Mark and mother to three teenage children. That puts me right in the middle of a teenage wasteland. Someone help me now!