In all of the past projects I’ve collaborated on with Blood Ensemble I have been primarily an actor. In NDGM, however, I’ve gotten the opportunity to stretch some other theatre muscles which were getting pretty stiff from unuse. Those muscles being the costuming muscles.
Reaching into the depths of my brain about renderings and button sewing has actually been a nice change.
It’s interesting to approach a collaborative process with slightly different eye. I find myself focusing less on myself during moment work and more on the show as a whole since my job is to create an over all aesthetic as opposed to character development. And hey, thinking about others is always positive.
I have found that costuming a devised work is a bit of a challenge. Instead of reading the script, talking to the director and coming up with designs,
the process is slow and organic like the creation of the show itself.
I want to see where the actors are going with their characters and design costumes that will help flesh them out but not limit them from devising further. Throwing someone into gold harem pants or an adult onesie will definitely affect the growth of their character. It has been a very collaborative design process. I give out some ideas, some are kept, some are not. Then I ask if they’ve adopted any special costumes pieces in my absence (since I’m not at every rehearsal) and do my best to work those into their final look. It is very give and take just like all devised work is, but I’m realizing this even more as a designer.
In the end this has been a good reminder of why it is helpful to work on different aspects of a show from time to time. As an actor, I am being re-reminded of what I can do to be helpful to designers. Like how important communication it. And how ideas very much welcome, (especially in devising) even if they aren’t used in the end.
I definitely had this feeling the first time I took a directing class. I remember watching auditions and realizing for the first time why it was important to “make a choice even if it’s the wrong choice.” Getting to work on a different skill briefly made me wonder if perhaps I should try directing again for that very reason. Then I remembered I was a horrible director and don’t want to subject the public to a shoddily directed show by the likes of me. I’ll just look back at the notes I took in the safety of my college directing class and draw from those.
Hm. But maybe writing…