The shop continues to gear up and I am constantly amazed at the number of students my colleague Tracy attracts. Literally, there are bodies everywhere and work cranks out at a very quick pace. The new arrangement of the shop – improvements from last year seem to be working excellently. It is so open and I love it.
We completed the first fittings for Dancing at Lughnasa this week. We had no major problems. The actors, for the most part walked into the clothes with minor alterations and notes. Since this is what I term a “rag show” we have some distressing to do. Since we are in our thrust arrangement for this production it must be very subtly done. First dress is two weeks from today. Auditions for Much Ado About Nothing were held over the weekend. the cast list should be up in the next few days and then I can begin cutting that show.
My classes are beginning to settle in and I am already behind half a day in my beginning design class. It is large enough that I have to break the tour of the facilities into two days. The first day of tour was last Thursday and the second is tomorrow. Then I have to try and catch up on Thursday. My seniors have met twice and we had individual meetings with all of them last week. Those meeting were incredibly helpful and enlightening. The student seemed to respond and we expect to continue those in the future.
Of course, the first week back to work was very busy. My last post was a week ago I just realized. With so many things happening in the week as they always do in the first week back. Of course, the biggest event is always first days of class. One of my two classes meets today for the first time. Unusual but, it only meets once a week on Tuesday afternoons.
It is also a time to welcome back students and see what they were up to during the summer as well as let them know what you did. It is always great fun to see them and begin the process of getting back to work. This year getting back to work is a dirty affair. Over the summer, there was some major work done on the Fine Arts Building and the basement, particularly, is a mess. A number of our students worked down there to restore order during this first week. It isn’t finished but, they made a good start. Tracy, my colleague is working on the upstairs. My design assistant from the last production of last season and one other student worked on restoring that production which was still hanging after strike to put the show in order. We are hoping to rent it out some this year.
There were a number of meetings and designs for shows were approved and we have begun purchasing as well as pulling costumes from stock. My design assistant on Dancing at Lughnasa worked most of the day on Friday pulling items for that show. Another student earlier in the week helped with Much Ado. I expect we will begin fitting this week for Dancing. More later.
My first class is a beginning design class and since it fulfills a core requirement for the university is large (about 50 students) and mostly non-majors. I enjoy this class because I get to meet a number of students from outside the department and try to get them involved in our programs. A number of them are frequently willing. This year has been no different. With Tracy’s influence, we have grown tremendously beginning last year. Last season, it seemed I was tripping over bodies working in the shop. This year is shaping up to be no different. She has two classes of costume construction and they do a great deal of the stitching on productions as part of their class. We work together to find projects they can do related to production. It helps us out tremendously and they always enjoy seeing their work on stage.
Since the last post, I saw a number of films at the cinema and on DVD. It was the holiday weekend and I felt I could take a little break. I also worked on my business and meet with some people interested to get reaction to some of the pieces. They were most helpful and I continue plugging away.
I saw this week The Hundred Foot Journey. This film was delightful. When I first saw the previews, I was immediately interested since Helen Mirren was attached. However, then I started reading reviews and became less interested. Object lesson: don’t read reviews. The film was well worth seeing despite what a number of critics have said. The cynicism of the reviews was greatly outweighed by my romantic notions and I was able to overcome their negativity and enjoy the movie.
On DVD, this week, I watched and this is just a laundry list:
- Spartacus – costume design award winner (color) from 1960
- 84 Charing Cross Road –recommended by a friend and well worth seeing, Anne Bancroft
- A Room With a View – costume design award winner from 1986
- Albert Nobbs – excellent (and very sad) period film with Glenn Close and Janet McTeer in unbelievable performances
- Dolphin Tale – a movie I missed in the theatres that I wanted to see – not a great movie but, it’s about a dolphin and I’m glad I watched it
The evening after my last post, I decided to knock off for the evening and watch a movie. I don’t have cable or subscribe to any of services such as Netflix so, I buy DVD’s (usually used) so I always have something to watch. As a rule, I don’t buy just anything but, look for films or television productions that have some meaning for me. I have a list of all the films that have been nominated or won the Academy Award for costume design. When I am out browsing, if I find one then I get it. So, I have a number of films on DVD which I still need to watch and plan to do that during retirement if not before. Anyway, the other day I was out browsing and ran across a copy of The Turning Point with Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft. It was nominated for 11 awards and won none. It was not, however, nominated for the costume design award. It probably should have been acknowledged in this category. Unfortunately, the academy doesn’t consider contemporary films as having costumes. It is one of my pet peeves about those awards and I don’t understand the seeming bigotry but, that is another story.
Anyway, so last Saturday evening since, the film is one of those movies that hold a good deal of nostalgia for me, I popped it in and settled back. It is, in a word, lovely. The story, the performances (I love Anne Bancroft and Shirley MacLaine) and the design of that film is really quite wonderful.
Tonight (Tuesday) I had dinner with a dinner group. We meet once a month on the last Tuesday. Tonight, was a large turnout, seemed to be about 20. This is a very interesting group of people and I enjoy when I am able to attend. Tonight I was sitting with a colleague that teaches at Centre College and he is on the faculty of the theatre program and, ironically I ran into him in London. He is originally from London so; we talked about our individual trips. He was with his wife who is also very charming and I enjoyed an evening of great conversation and camaraderie. It is nice when we have that large a group. The last time I went there were only three of us. You never know how many will be there even though we communicate through e mail and see everyone’s responses. Each month we go to a different restaurant and I have been to a great many restaurants in Lexington. Tonight, was extra special I think. Most everyone inquired about the business I am trying to get started. They remember everything you say and that feels very special.
The last twenty-four hours have been incredibly productive. Yesterday, I spent most of the day at the costume studio. A couple of students came in and worked. I managed to get some things pulled from stock for Much Ado About Nothing which allowed me to get the last of the renderings painted (see below for a sampling of the final designs). I have both my classes posted on Blackboard and the first assignments up. The syllabi are posted and my beginning design class, I have half the semester’s assignments posted. I feel ready to start tomorrow.
Quote from the book I am currently reading. This struck me (I mean it really jumped out at me when I read it) and I could relate to it on a very personal level.
He lived, at times, he felt, as if his life belonged to someone else, a story that had not yet been written, a character who had not been fully imagined.
from The Master by Colm Toibin (111)
It’s has been a busy and quiet few days as I continue to prepare for the school year. I’ve been working on my class preps which include updating syllabi and combing through lecture notes and making improvements to presentations. Somewhere in there I managed to complete some yard work. Have to do it again though. I picked up my new glasses to replace the ones I left in London. I caught with Christina for lunch at the café at Joseph-Beth Booksellers. It was nice to hear about her trip to Paris after we parted in London. We also did some prep for one of the classes we are team teaching this fall. I saw a movie with my friends Rhoda and Sandy (see below) on Thursday. I had dinner with Terry on Wednesday. Somewhere in there, I did a fitting on a wedding dress, I agreed to alter for a friend.
I’ve also continued working on costume sketches for Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare. Yesterday, I met with the director and got the go ahead. He expressed pleasure with what he saw. We clarified a few items and now I am painting those renderings after a discussion about color. This has been very helpful as I can get a head start on finishing those designs before classes begin. This production is set in the early 19th century – Regency period. I must confess, my trip to London has been somewhat freeing for me in terms of my design work. In the past, I have always been such a slave to realism. In recent years, I have begun to let go of some of that but the productions I saw in London have perhaps, helped me take the next step. Much of the design work I saw was very loose in relation to period and realism. I guess it gave me permission to do the same.
In between all this, I managed to take in a movie. I went Thursday evening to see Boyhood. This film has received a good deal of press because of its being filmed over an 11 or 12 year period depending on the press venue you read. I was somewhat concerned about the almost 3 hour run time. However, there was no need. The film is (as Vikki would say) brilliant. It captures a sense of reality in a way that no film I have ever seen can. You care literally watching the two children of the family grow up before your eyes and the director creates an intimacy (voyeuristic) within the film that is unlike anything I have ever seen. At the same time, it is epic in scope because you are party to twelve years in the life of this family. I think what gives it its true intimacy is that the director never creates road signs to the time passage. You just observe and it is incredible that there are never any real histrionics – no car crashes, no digital imagery, only implied violence. The characters grow and change before your eyes and you become part of that journey. So glad I was able to experience this film and the run time – not a problem.
I finished the last of the renderings for Dancing at Lughnasa last Wednesday. I am now working on preliminary sketches for Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare. That production opens in November.
Thursday, I took a break and went to see the new James Brown bio pic, Get On Up. This is one of the best films of this type I have ever seen. The film making reflects the complexity of this man’s life. I knew a little about James Brown from listening to his music but, I never understood what a complex and interesting person that generated that music. The film is layered and textured with over lays and flashbacks (but not in the traditional sense of that term). He speaks to the film audience as a commentary. The film depicts a man who was brilliant despite a lack of education and opportunity. He intelligently makes his own opportunity and crafts a life of wealth and power. This is not to say he did not have problems and issues that we today might not find acceptable. The film is uplifting and the performances are first rate as are the design elements.
After that, I went down town to meet Terry and some friends for Thursday Night Live. The square was packed and the evening was perfect. The weather lately has been incredibly mild and comfortable.
It won’t be long now until I will be back at UK. Still have to finish prepping my classes for the fall. I am teaching Fundamentals of Design & Production and Senior Capstone this semester. We also we be hosting the Kentucky Thespian Festival in October. Shaping up to be a very busy semester.