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Re: [TheCostumersManifesto] Digest Number 1459

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  • Curtis Kidd
    ... At the risk of getting lambasted for lack of solidarity, having done both directing and costume design, I ve got to say the director puts in more hours,
    Message 1 of 6 , Jan 8, 2006
      > From: Sylvia Rognstad <sylvia@...>
      > Subject: Re: who gets paid??
      >
      > My opinion is that the designers should get paid as much
      > as the
      > directors. I think they all do as much work. At least I
      > know from
      > experience that the costume designers do.

      At the risk of getting lambasted for lack of solidarity,
      having done both directing and costume design, I've got to
      say the director puts in more hours, more leg work, and
      more sweat and tears than anyone else in the production--IF
      it's a good director. I've worked with some bad ones;
      typically, they only get one chance to show they're any
      good and when the bad ones show themselves for what they
      are, the artistic staff has unanimously said, "Well, he's
      never working for us again."

      It is, after all, the director who has to come up with an
      overall concept for the show, explain it to all the
      designers and production staff, and steer the actors
      through it. The last show I directed was only a two-person
      show, and I put in hundreds of hours of prep time,
      production meetings, and rehearsals.

      However, I DO agree, most emphatically, that ANYONE in a
      creative/supervisory position should be paid. I would add
      the stage manager to the list, because the only way you'll
      get a good one (unless there's a guardian angel stage
      manager waiting to volunteer) is to pay them--and a good
      stage manager can make all the difference in the world in
      how smoothly a production comes together and runs. How
      much to pay is a question you've got to figure out--just
      keep in mind that the more you pay, the more likely you are
      to get 'quality' help (although, in my experience, there's
      a certain bias against community theater that grows--most
      people I've worked with, once they reach a certain degree
      of success, consider community theater 'beneath' them, so
      regardless of what you pay, you may not get top-notch help.
      That depends on your community, I suppose...I know one of
      the best director/choreographers in the area here does a
      lot of community/'amateur' theater work as well as working
      for the bigger theaters--he does it because he loves what
      he does and it keeps him in practice. I also know set and
      costume designers that wouldn't even look at a community
      theater job--even consider listing one on a resume as a
      liability.)

      Personally, my take would be this--Director always gets
      paid the most. Set, Costume, Lighting, Props and Sound
      Designers get paid for each show, but the rate depends on
      the complexity (if you've got a simple one-unit set, for
      instance, the designer hasn't had to put in as much
      work...or if you're costuming four people, in one costume
      each, it's not as much work as twenty people with multiple
      costumes). Stage managers should also be paid on this kind
      of sliding scale (smaller shows are less demanding). If
      you find people who are really good at their position and
      willing to keep coming back for multiple shows, I'd also
      consider increasing their pay, if possible, as a show of
      appreciation for their loyalty. (That might also extend to
      other personnel--actors and tech crew, for example). Even
      if you can't afford to pay your actors and crew, have an
      opening and closing night party for them, or something like
      that...and be sure to say thank you a lot. It's amazing
      the difference a few well-timed thank-yous can make in
      attitude and loyalty (I walked away from a better-paying
      (at the time), more prestigious job to where I am now
      because the people I was working for were a pretty
      thankless lot. I'm still where I am now because I feel
      appreciated there.) Another way to say thanks to people
      who have been working for you is to give them a 'leg up',
      if they're ready for it...if you've got a stage manager
      who's proven him/herself a steady, reliable person, and
      they're interested in directing, let them have a chance.
      If your chief deck hand comes forward with a design
      portfolio and wants to design a set, why not? (just keep
      the first one simple).

      After all, non-profit ANYTHING survives on the loyalty of
      the people involved. If that loyalty isn't somehow
      rewarded, it's very easy for people to start feeling
      exploited, and that's when they walk away. And if THAT
      happens too often, word of mouth starts spreading around
      and soon it's hard to find new people to replace the ones
      that have left. My two-bucks worth (it started out being
      two-bits, but I appear to have gone off on the subject
      again. Sorry if I've caused anyone severe perturbations.)



      Curtis Kidd
      "Remember, the light at the end of the tunnel could be you!"

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    • K Murphy
      In light of the discussions lately about the value of our work and so forth, I was just wondering if you all have stories about the absolute worst, most
      Message 2 of 6 , Jan 9, 2006
        In light of the discussions lately about the value of our work and so forth, I was just wondering if you all have stories about the absolute worst, most insulting thing you've had happen in your professional capacity.

        I have a couple of favorite stories to get the ball rolling...

        When I went on maternity leave from my primary position seven years ago (I costume 6 musicals and 6 drama workshops per season), a man applied for my job and put all kinds of interesting references on his resume. When he came in for an interview, he admitted that though he did have a background in theatre, he'd never costumed ANYTHING, had never studied design, and didn't even know how to sew. When I asked him why he'd applied for the job, he said, "Well, I'm sure I could learn...I mean, how hard could it be?"

        There's more...

        I work for a professional theatre that is funded as part of a park district, and my boss has a PhD in theatre. HIS boss has a BA in "Gym." We lost an Equity contract because she didn't want to "deal with any unions." And here's the part I almost quit over: after 14 years of allowing me cash advances, the park district decided it was "too much of a liability." So now I have to spend my own money and be reimbursed (I made only one mistake on one receipt in 14 years...I miscalculated by 11cents.) We're not talking petty cash, here, either...we're talking the entire budget for each show.

        How about those horror stories -- vent people, vent!





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      • Liz
        Last year I designed The Diary of Anne Frank - it was my first show as a non-student designer, at my alma mater, the University of Rhode Island. Due to the
        Message 3 of 6 , Jan 14, 2006
          Last year I designed "The Diary of Anne Frank" - it was my first
          show as a non-student designer, at my alma mater, the University of
          Rhode Island. Due to the nature of the show, I provided a lot of
          rehearsal costumes -

          Peter has this scene where he rips the gold Jood star off of his
          sweater - there is quite a bit of dialogue about it. For the tech
          rehearsal, I allowed Peter to wear the sweater, but I told him not
          to rip the star off for real, because there was no wardrobe crew
          there yet to sew them back on the next day. This makes sense to you
          all, correct?

          I was upstairs constructing something or the other, and a stage
          manager came upstairs to tell me that the lighting designer had a
          question for me. So I figure it was something about color, and went
          downstairs to talk to her. This is the conversation that followed
          (roughly paraphrased):

          Me: Hey, whats up?
          LD: Shouldn't Peter tear off his star?
          Me: Yes.
          LD: Well he isn't.
          Me: I know, I told him not to for tonight because we have no
          wardrobe crew to sew them or collect them.
          LD: But in the SHOW, he should tear off the star.
          Me: ...I know.
          LD: I mean *condescendingly* his CHARACTER would tear off the star,
          so he should do it.
          Me: ...I've got it covered.

          The issue with the above conversation being a. DUH. It is in the
          script that this happens, and believe it or not, I read the script
          more than once... and b. what the hell does this have to do with the
          lights anyway??

          Then there was the time when the director said "Make sure that the
          stars are secured with something better than velcro." ... I would
          hope that my degree in costume design would at least enable me to
          realize that in 1942 Nazi Europe, they probably didn't
          velcro ...um...ANYTHING.

          this show had a myriad of problems like that - because I think many
          of you would agree that people tend to think that costumes is
          somehting anyone knows most about... and so everyone wants their
          input. Choreographers are especially notorious for that. And of
          course if it is a safety issue, that is noteworthy. But if it's a
          style preference? get over it.

          There is my vent. you DID ask for it!! ;)
          Liz
        • ~lisa.s
          For several years, the community college where I work did A Christmas Carol as a cash cow production. A year ago, the actor cast as Scrooge was on the small
          Message 4 of 6 , Jan 15, 2006
            For several years, the community college where I work did "A Christmas
            Carol" as a cash cow production. A year ago, the actor cast as Scrooge
            was on the small size and looked about 12. It didn't help he had a head
            of very full hair which he wore on the longish side. I asked all men to
            get their hair cut short--even providing illustrations for them. Final
            dress came, and Scrooge still hadn't had his hair cut. His hair was so
            dark and dense that no matter what we tried we couldn't get it a
            believable white/gray color. So I told him it was imperative that he had
            it cut before our 10:00 am opening the next day.

            Needless to say, he didn't.

            That evening, before the show, I left my clip board in the men's
            dressing room. When I went to get it, an envelope was attached,
            addressed to "costume person". The letter was signed by kid's father
            (which I still don't believe, just from the handwriting) saying that he
            and his mother liked their son's hair the way it was, and I must not be
            competent in my job if I couldn't put a wig on him, or find another
            solution, besides having the kid cut his hair!

            Later in the run, the kid came up to me, holding a program and asked, if
            everything in my bio was true (!) (25 years experience in academic and
            professional theater, yada yada yada...) and said he hadn't realized
            that I was faculty. (!!)

            After that show, I had it written into the audition form that if cast,
            the actor agrees to have their hair cut and/or styled as deemed
            appropriate, by me, for the role.

            It hasn't broken my heart that the kid hasn't been cast in any other shows...

            ~lisa.s
            --
            * llsturts@...
          • Brad Gould
            Hello, Recently, my boyfriend and I were watching A beautiful Mind on dvd. Going through the special features I saw a clip on the aging makeup where they
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 14, 2006
              Hello,
              Recently, my boyfriend and I were watching "A beautiful Mind" on dvd. Going through the special features I saw a clip on the aging makeup where they mentioned making pieces to apply to Russel Crowe's face to age him. I believe that they said that they were using a silicone or silicone foam. Where could I get this, and could it be used in drag for fake breasts?
              Thanks for any info, I've never worked with anything like this before.
              Brad


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            • Steven Sorton
              Try http://www.smooth-on.com/specialfx.htm . They should have what you re looking for. Lord Ironwulf ironwulf@optonline.net Yahoo ID: lordironwulf Shadow
              Message 6 of 6 , Feb 15, 2006
                Try http://www.smooth-on.com/specialfx.htm . They should have what you're looking for.



                Lord Ironwulf

                ironwulf@...

                Yahoo ID: lordironwulf



                Shadow Dale Creations
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                ----- Original Message -----

                Date: Tue, 14 Feb 2006 22:29:05 -0500 (EST)
                From: Brad Gould <bradleyvictor@...>
                Subject: Silicone?

                Hello,
                Recently, my boyfriend and I were watching "A beautiful Mind" on dvd. Going through the special features I saw a clip on the aging makeup where they mentioned making pieces to apply to Russel Crowe's face to age him. I believe that they said that they were using a silicone or silicone foam. Where could I get this, and could it be used in drag for fake breasts?
                Thanks for any info, I've never worked with anything like this before.
                Brad




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