Filtering by Tag: behindthescenes

Notes From the Wardrobe: It’s Not About Clothes

Photo by Denise Medve - Penguinmoon Studio

Photo by Denise Medve - Penguinmoon Studio

What was supposed to be a short experiment in living fearlessly seems to have now become a way of life. My list of saying yes to things that terrify me continues to grow. Among the most recent additions are Hip-hop and Bollywood classes, further adventures in DIY and now - directing. Joining the board of Pioneer Productions last winter I expected to do many things - producing, publicity, teaching, and absolutely performing. What never occurred to me was that I’d be given the opportunity to direct a show. It’s not that I’ve never directed before, or that I didn’t like it. I have and I do, very much. It just wasn’t something that appeared on my radar as a possibility. Until an offer too good to pass up came along.

So, now I find myself in charge of a production of Nora and Delia Ephron’s “Love, Loss & What I Wore”, The initial reaction from some people has been “Of course, you’d direct a play about clothes.” I unashamedly admit that I love clothes. I love the freedom and creative expression of them, the fact that they can be used to stand out or blend in, their transformative power, and that they can be used to make a statement without uttering a word. But to say this show is about clothes is to miss the point entirely.

This show is about women telling their stories in their words. And even (or most especially) in the year 2018 that is a revolutionary act. These women speak their truth without a filter, they are not trying to  please anyone or curry favor all they want is be heard. Sharing their lives for the record makes those lives important. The stories they tell are part of the fabric of who they are - the good, the bad and even  the not so flattering. 

The clothing is merely the device for sharing those tales. Our clothing often contains our memories. The feel of certain fabrics against the skin, the swish of a skirt, or a specific pattern can transport us to the past like nothing else can. It gives us a safe way of remembering what was painful, reminds us who we once were and helps us relate to other humans. Who hasn’t had at least one catastrophic wardrobe malfunction in their lives? 

And while these are women’s stories this is not solely a play for women. More than anything this is a show about what it’s like to be human- to laugh, to feel pain and to yearn for connection. Guys have a relationship with clothing as well. Just ask Spouse about the plaid pants and jacket I made him get rid of when we got married. He thought they made him look quirky and artistic. I thought he looked like a used car salesman. Did I mention he had a pair of navy and cream saddle shoes that he wore with them?

I am enjoying immensely the challenge of bringing this show to life. The cast is an amazing group of women putting their heart and souls into creating these characters, and the production team is committed to making everything perfect. Most of all, I’m looking forward to sharing this new (and only occasionally terrifying) journey with you.

 

 

 

Dance Diary: Playing to Win

Dress Courtesy of  Encore Ballroom Couture   Hair & Make-up by Melanie Rivera

Dress Courtesy of Encore Ballroom Couture  Hair & Make-up by Melanie Rivera

I am not a competitive person. That’s a lie, I am an extremely competitive person, what I do not like is organized competition. If you want to get all psychoanalytical about it, you could say it comes from forever being the last one picked when it came to kickball, softball, or any sport requiring speed, dexterity and the ability to remain undistracted by the nearest shiny object. Or maybe it was the whistle wearing, clipboard wielding elementary school PE teacher who lined us up like military recruits and screamed that we would never be popular unless we were good at sports. Exactly what this pasty, brainy, introvert who carried a breifcase through fifth grade needed to hear to assure her that elementary school was not really for her. Whatever it was, it was enough for me to swear off organized sports for life.

Thus when my dance instructors started strongly encouraging me to go to the World-Dance-A-Rama in New York City it was sort of a good news/bad news situation. The good news: I’d get to put on sequins and fringe and lots and lots of makeup and perform. Also, New York, so it wasn’t like I had to expend a great deal of effort to get there. The bad news: Judges. Giving scores. Prizes that I will not win. I’m not saying this to gain your pity or to self deprecate, but because I’ve only been at this for two years, and I’ve always been in it to improve my performance skills not to win medals for my samba bounce.  Something I knew I would have to continually remind myself if I went through with this.

Dress Courtesy of  Classic Ballroom Elegance  Hair & Make-up by Melanie Rivera

Dress Courtesy of Classic Ballroom Elegance Hair & Make-up by Melanie Rivera

It did help that the judges, while definitely wielding clipboards, wore neither whistles, crew cuts or athletic socks. In fact, one was wearing  the most covetable pair of boots, and I was dying to ask her where she got them, but I digress.  I managed to do a West Coast Swing solo, and I danced tango, waltz, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Samba,  Mambo, Argentine Tango, Cha Cha, Rumba, Swing, Bolero, and Hustle all without major flashbacks. There were even times I managed to forget that I was being judged. That I can willingly dance in front of any audience let alone one made up people who are passing judgement on me is still a surprise to me. And the immense amount of  Preparation for this event definitely made me a better dancer, and the better I become the more at home I feel in my body. This is something I’ve been able to translate into every aspect of my performing.

 My friend and mentor, the late Erv Raible, always asked me after every show, “Did you win?” He wasn’t talking about prizes, what he wanted to know was did I give the audience everything I had? Did I play it safe or did I take risks that made me a better performer? DId I show the audience who I was and make a connnection? 

 So did I win? If you’re talking in terms of actual trophies, bestowed by judges, no. I’d like to tell you I’m perfectly sanguine in this outcome, but there’s still enough of the nerdy fifth grader in me that I really would have liked a shiny medal to stash in my briefcase. But in the terms laid out by my friend Erv of giving it all to get better at what I love  and communicating it to an audience. Absolutely!