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Are costumers technicians?

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  • Michelle Davidson
    Hello everyone! I need some help to support a debate. I am a faculty member at a midsize university: University of Nevada, Reno. I have an MFA in theatre
    Message 1 of 25 , Dec 7, 2006
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      Hello everyone! I need some help to support a debate.
      I am a faculty member at a midsize university:
      University of Nevada, Reno. I have an MFA in theatre
      technology with a costume design emphasis. I am the
      staff designer and costume shop manager for our
      theatre department. We are in the process of
      evaluating/redesigning our curriculum. The chair of
      our department, the lighting faculty member, the
      scenic faculty member, and the tech director had a
      meeting to discuss the techical curriculum. I was not
      invited or informed. When we next met to discuss
      curriculum, they presented their plan for the tech
      curriculum. Costumes were not part of it. (Along
      with running the costume shop, I teach 4 classes
      yearly.) I immediately asked where costumes were to
      be represented in the tech curriculum. I was told
      that they didn't realize/believe/know that costumes
      were considered tech! I was stunned speechless! I
      asked them where they thought costumes fit in, as they
      are not part of the performance aspect of teaching
      theatre, but along with set, lights, sound, props;
      costumes are technical support for theatrical
      productions. Now, I don't want anyone to think there
      was a shouting match or any nastiness was intended,
      but my feelings were a bit hurt and I am confused. As
      with faculty decisions everywhere, discussion is
      continuing. Please help me support my position that
      costume design and construction are, in fact, aspects
      of technical theatre.
      Thank you!
      Michelle (in Reno, but from the Dakotas!)

      In the name of the Pasta, and of the Sauce, and of the Garlic Toast, RAmen.
      http://www.venganza.org/index.htm

      __________________________________________________
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    • nbrookstaylor
      When I first read the question in the subject line, I had a vesceral reaction that said I am not a technician, I am an artist! . Then I read the rest of the
      Message 2 of 25 , Dec 7, 2006
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        When I first read the question in the subject line, I had a vesceral
        reaction that said "I am not a technician, I am an artist!". Then I
        read the rest of the email, and realized you were talking about
        "performance" versus "technical", and understood your question.

        I absolutely believe that costumes are part of technical theatre, and
        where I work, the Production Manager and TD believe this in theory.
        In practice,however, costumes (and to a lesser extent props) seem to
        occupy this weird no-man's land. That is, as shop manager, I am
        pretty independant of the technical director. Costumes appears no
        where in Technical Theatre or Advanced Technical Theatre,or even the
        although students who wish to study costumes can take these classes
        and do their lab hours with me, as there are no costume classes (we
        only have 2 faculty members, and costumes is not represented).

        I have a theory, although I try not to think about it because it
        angers me, that our separation from "technical theatre" into something
        separate is because costumes are seen as "women's work", and thus
        unconsciously devalued. I also think that because people where clothes
        every day, they think doing costumes must be easy. I recently had the
        opportunity to show the props master how to make a piano cover and she
        was flabbergasted at the amount of time and effort it took (it was
        three layers and needed to fit the piano top perfectly). It took
        about an hour, and part of that was because I was showing her. I
        pointed out that some of the costumes we made for the most recent
        show, a wedding dress, for example, took about 17-18 hours total. She
        was just amazed at how long it took. She said that she was wondering
        what I was doing that made me so busy!

        So my 2 cents is that costume people are technicians and artists, but
        not some wierd third area of theatre production!

        Nadine

        Nadine Taylor
        Costume Shop Manager
        University of Rochester International Theatre Program

        --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, Michelle Davidson
        <adastra33@...> wrote:
        >
        > Hello everyone! I need some help to support a debate.
        > I am a faculty member at a midsize university:
        > University of Nevada, Reno. I have an MFA in theatre
        > technology with a costume design emphasis. I am the
        > staff designer and costume shop manager for our
        > theatre department. We are in the process of
        > evaluating/redesigning our curriculum. The chair of
        > our department, the lighting faculty member, the
        > scenic faculty member, and the tech director had a
        > meeting to discuss the techical curriculum. I was not
        > invited or informed. When we next met to discuss
        > curriculum, they presented their plan for the tech
        > curriculum. Costumes were not part of it. (Along
        > with running the costume shop, I teach 4 classes
        > yearly.) I immediately asked where costumes were to
        > be represented in the tech curriculum. I was told
        > that they didn't realize/believe/know that costumes
        > were considered tech! I was stunned speechless! I
        > asked them where they thought costumes fit in, as they
        > are not part of the performance aspect of teaching
        > theatre, but along with set, lights, sound, props;
        > costumes are technical support for theatrical
        > productions. Now, I don't want anyone to think there
        > was a shouting match or any nastiness was intended,
        > but my feelings were a bit hurt and I am confused. As
        > with faculty decisions everywhere, discussion is
        > continuing. Please help me support my position that
        > costume design and construction are, in fact, aspects
        > of technical theatre.
        > Thank you!
        > Michelle (in Reno, but from the Dakotas!)
        >
        > In the name of the Pasta, and of the Sauce, and of the Garlic Toast,
        RAmen.
        > http://www.venganza.org/index.htm
        >
        > __________________________________________________
        > Do You Yahoo!?
        > Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
        > http://mail.yahoo.com
        >
      • marina pareja
        Hi Michelle, I have the same position as you at Florida International University in Miami and I understand your predicament. You were stunned speechless! And
        Message 3 of 25 , Dec 7, 2006
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          Hi Michelle, I have the same position as you at Florida International
          University in Miami and I understand your predicament. You were stunned
          speechless! And you should be! I had to read your email many times to make
          sure that I understood what I was reading. Who are these people? Do they
          have any knowledge of theatre production? Where do they think costumes come
          from? the air? As far as I know, in order to make costumes you have to have
          some kind specialization or knowledge in costume construction, and to me
          that makes it technical. Also if you look in any theatre production book,
          reference or academic, you will find that costumes are part of what is
          considered the production aspect of theater, together with light, sound,
          scenery, props, make up, etc, no matter how minimal these may be. Also, look
          at other University�s curriculums and you�ll see that costume design and
          construction are always under technical production classes. So let me tell
          you, the problem with these people is that they are misinformed.

          Good Luck

          Marina





          Marina Pareja
          Costume Shop Manager
          Werthiem Performing Arts Center
          Florida International University





          >From: Michelle Davidson <adastra33@...>
          >Reply-To: TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com
          >To: TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com
          >Subject: [TheCostumersManifesto] Are costumers technicians?
          >Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2006 11:17:51 -0800 (PST)
          >
          >Hello everyone! I need some help to support a debate.
          > I am a faculty member at a midsize university:
          >University of Nevada, Reno. I have an MFA in theatre
          >technology with a costume design emphasis. I am the
          >staff designer and costume shop manager for our
          >theatre department. We are in the process of
          >evaluating/redesigning our curriculum. The chair of
          >our department, the lighting faculty member, the
          >scenic faculty member, and the tech director had a
          >meeting to discuss the techical curriculum. I was not
          >invited or informed. When we next met to discuss
          >curriculum, they presented their plan for the tech
          >curriculum. Costumes were not part of it. (Along
          >with running the costume shop, I teach 4 classes
          >yearly.) I immediately asked where costumes were to
          >be represented in the tech curriculum. I was told
          >that they didn't realize/believe/know that costumes
          >were considered tech! I was stunned speechless! I
          >asked them where they thought costumes fit in, as they
          >are not part of the performance aspect of teaching
          >theatre, but along with set, lights, sound, props;
          >costumes are technical support for theatrical
          >productions. Now, I don't want anyone to think there
          >was a shouting match or any nastiness was intended,
          >but my feelings were a bit hurt and I am confused. As
          >with faculty decisions everywhere, discussion is
          >continuing. Please help me support my position that
          >costume design and construction are, in fact, aspects
          >of technical theatre.
          >Thank you!
          >Michelle (in Reno, but from the Dakotas!)
          >
          >In the name of the Pasta, and of the Sauce, and of the Garlic Toast, RAmen.
          >http://www.venganza.org/index.htm
          >
          >__________________________________________________
          >Do You Yahoo!?
          >Tired of spam? Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around
          >http://mail.yahoo.com
        • llsturts@greatlakes.net
          costume DESIGN set DESIGN prop DESIGN lighting DESIGN sound DESIGN What part of the word design don t they understand? That s the only reply needed, IMHO.
          Message 4 of 25 , Dec 7, 2006
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            costume DESIGN
            set DESIGN
            prop DESIGN
            lighting DESIGN
            sound DESIGN

            What part of the word "design" don't they understand?

            That's the only reply needed, IMHO.

            ~lisa.s
          • David
            Well of course we are technicians. To believe otherwise is ludicrous. I think the leadership of your tech program needs to be re-examined. We would certainly
            Message 5 of 25 , Dec 8, 2006
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              Well of course we are technicians. To believe otherwise is ludicrous.
              I think the leadership of your tech program needs to be re-examined.
              We would certainly never put up with this absurd attitude here.

              David Juby
              Head of Wardrobe
              Sheridan College
            • Curtis
              ... something ... As someone that has worked pretty much every aspect of technical theater, I take a little exception to your assumption. In my experience,
              Message 6 of 25 , Dec 8, 2006
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                --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, "nbrookstaylor"
                <nbrookstaylor@...> wrote:
                >
                >
                > I have a theory, although I try not to think about it because it
                > angers me, that our separation from "technical theatre" into
                something
                > separate is because costumes are seen as "women's work", and thus
                > unconsciously devalued.

                As someone that has worked pretty much every aspect of technical
                theater, I take a little exception to your assumption. In my
                experience, the separation between costumes (and props, sometimes)
                is due to the fact that technical directors just don't ever study
                that aspect in any detail. Every location I've ever worked at had
                competent costumers, the TD didn't need to be consulted for
                assistance with costume issues--but sets, lighting, sound, those
                were all domains where the TD was constantly wrangling issues.
                Because there's a lot of discussion back and forth between those
                branches, they tend to group together...they also end up having to
                work in the same space during the process of putting the show
                together (sound to a much lesser extent, as they come into the
                process relatively late in most productions), whereas costumes (and
                props) just kind of magically materialize from nowhere (in their
                eyes). We do our work in a different location, so we tend to be
                mentally filed under a different category.

                If you sit down and talk to them about it, then of course we're part
                of the technical side of things...but on a day to day basis,
                costumers and props designers spend so much time working
                independently that they become operators in their own domain, and
                it's a very rare TD that really succeeds in keeping them assimilated
                into the whole category.

                (Another thing is, so many costumers and props people tend to be
                designers, in their own right, whereas there are a lot of
                technicians who simply take what they are given by a designer and
                make it happen. It's creativity, focused in a different
                direction...but as we tend to think differently, there becomes a
                subconscious divide between the two.)
              • Sherry Ross
                When running a show why are custome changes left to the final rehearsal. In community theatre we costume designers are always left to the end and rushed for
                Message 7 of 25 , Dec 8, 2006
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                  When running a show why are custome changes left to the final rehearsal. In community theatre we costume designers are always left to the end and rushed for changes. I can tell the directors you need more time but until dress rehearsal they refuse to include time for it.
                  Sherry
                  Brampton Music Theatre

                  Curtis <gckidd@...> wrote: --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, "nbrookstaylor"
                  <nbrookstaylor@...> wrote:
                  >
                  >
                  > I have a theory, although I try not to think about it because it
                  > angers me, that our separation from "technical theatre" into
                  something
                  > separate is because costumes are seen as "women's work", and thus
                  > unconsciously devalued.

                  As someone that has worked pretty much every aspect of technical
                  theater, I take a little exception to your assumption. In my
                  experience, the separation between costumes (and props, sometimes)
                  is due to the fact that technical directors just don't ever study
                  that aspect in any detail. Every location I've ever worked at had
                  competent costumers, the TD didn't need to be consulted for
                  assistance with costume issues--but sets, lighting, sound, those
                  were all domains where the TD was constantly wrangling issues.
                  Because there's a lot of discussion back and forth between those
                  branches, they tend to group together...they also end up having to
                  work in the same space during the process of putting the show
                  together (sound to a much lesser extent, as they come into the
                  process relatively late in most productions), whereas costumes (and
                  props) just kind of magically materialize from nowhere (in their
                  eyes). We do our work in a different location, so we tend to be
                  mentally filed under a different category.

                  If you sit down and talk to them about it, then of course we're part
                  of the technical side of things...but on a day to day basis,
                  costumers and props designers spend so much time working
                  independently that they become operators in their own domain, and
                  it's a very rare TD that really succeeds in keeping them assimilated
                  into the whole category.

                  (Another thing is, so many costumers and props people tend to be
                  designers, in their own right, whereas there are a lot of
                  technicians who simply take what they are given by a designer and
                  make it happen. It's creativity, focused in a different
                  direction...but as we tend to think differently, there becomes a
                  subconscious divide between the two.)






                  Sherry Ross
                  Brampton Music Theatre
                  Youth Troupe Admin
                  Check out the Yahoo group..BMTyouth Troupe_Cinderella
                  www.BMTyouthtroupe_Cinderella.com


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Joe
                  I run across this attitude all the time. I try to ignore it mostly because with 20 years as a costumer, I can t fight that battle any more. Nothing back stage
                  Message 8 of 25 , Dec 18, 2006
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                    I run across this attitude all the time.
                    I try to ignore it mostly because with 20 years as a costumer, I can't fight
                    that battle any more.
                    Nothing back stage in theater, & film invoke character more than does costume design,
                    for what is Batman without his utility belt.
                    And to make that belt you need to able to vacu-form, mold latex, shape foam,
                    paint, and of course sew.
                    Infect, all of the skills used in the scene shop, outside of construction with wood, is
                    used in construction of costumes.
                    Added to the fact that the piece being constructed must move and be specific to the actor.
                    I could argue that costume construction is a more challenging discipline.
                  • jeannets
                    ... This is an interesting discussion. I generally refer to myself as a costume technician. I have been a stitcher, first hand, cutter/draper and shop
                    Message 9 of 25 , Dec 28, 2006
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                      --- In TheCostumersManifesto@yahoogroups.com, "Joe" <jocig@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > I run across this attitude all the time.
                      > I try to ignore it mostly because with 20 years as a costumer, I can't fight
                      > that battle any more.

                      This is an interesting discussion. I generally refer to myself as a costume technician. I
                      have been a stitcher, first hand, cutter/draper and shop manager. I think putting it that
                      way lets people know I am not a designer--something I've never had any interest in doing.
                      I think the comment about "women's work" is spot on. The other side of theatre
                      production (more male dominated) definitely has more union representation than
                      costumers. Why is that?

                      I was at a seminar given by someone who taught at an arts high school a few years ago.
                      This person was the tech. director of the theatre program. When I asked him about
                      costumes, he said it was all rented (!) My oldest daughter is a freshman theatre major at
                      the arts high school in our city. From what I've seen so far, their production classes don't
                      focus on costumes either. I gave a talk about costuming to the freshman theatre classes
                      and even the teacher was amazed that I knew how to make a pattern based on a sketch.

                      Jeanne
                      Milwaukee WI
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