February 28, 2015

YOHP: Where Danger & Hilarity Ensues

Writing about my portfolio the other day reminded me of the fun I had costuming the 2013 One Acts, directed by Missy Brewer, at the Penfield community theater through the Young Open & Honest Players.  It was a privilege to work with such talented people, especially our lovely director, and costume, all giggles and grins.  So, for today, past projects resumes with the periodesque piece, Actor's Nightmare:

Act I: Play Synopsis & Costume Plot

Throughout Actor's Nightmare, a disoriented George Spelvin, with no recollection of his identity or how he ended up at the theater, is told he must go on for one of the actors, who he supposedly understudied, injured in a car accident.  Cast into scenes from familiar plays,  George remains confused and unsure of his lines - the actors know him, but he clearly does not know them.  Danger and hilarity ensues.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer...

The disoriented actor, clothed in Shakespearean garb, is first cast into a scene from Private Lives.  Through the costume selection, I was hoping to add a sense of 1930s Hollywood glamour along with establishing the nightmarish color scheme -  black, white and red - representing blood and passion.

Next, George appears as Hamlet and is left to deliver a monologue where everything from Romeo & Juliet, to A Streetcar Named Desire, and to A Tale of Two Cities is quoted.  Hamlet, left, wears a purple striped doublet, symbolic of his princely status, while the loyal Horatio is on the right.

Both doublets were created from vests with ruffles, trim and velvet pieces added to make them look more Shakespearean.  Both velvet caps were made by me as well - just a large circles of velvet gathered and enclosed by a wide band. Curled plumes, a Chinese coin and beading were added for decoration.

Abruptly, the scene changes to Beckett Lighting as the still confused actor is told to climb into his trash can and count his blessings.  This costume was fun to pull together - especially the wig which I styled with a shower cap and curlers.

Finally, the play comes to an end in A Man for All Seasons.  And, well, you all know what happens...

A distraught Queen Gertrude.

Lady Alice from A Man for All Seasons.

The End.  Come again soon!

Act II:  A Closer Look at Two Costume Re-constructions

George Spelvin, the main character, needed Hamlet, Shakespearean attire.  He remains on stage for a majority of the play - therefore, I wanted to make his costume both attention-grabbing and stand out.  I paid careful attention to the construction and broke from the black/white/red color scheme - setting the disoriented, out-of-place actor further apart.

With limited time, I selected a dark purple vest to convert into a doublet.  I cut and hemmed a peplum and sleeve pieces from a length of black velvet.  Then, for the stripes, I cut and hemmed four strips of purple satin, which were sewn into tubes and pressed to lay flat.  In the center, I pieced strips of black beading (thrifted from another shirt) and called it finished. I also made a matching cap with the same beading for the actor.

The Tudor inspired dress - or the two-in-one dress - was created for the actress doubling as Queen Gertrude (Hamlet) and Lady Alice (A Man for All Seasons).  Just switching the accessories made the quick change a piece of cake!

Dress notes:   The first steps I took were to cut a square neckline, insert a new zipper ,and bind the raw edge with brown bias tape.  The neckline and sleeve trim was created from lace (from my stash) and sparkly orange trim (thrifted from another dress).  For Queen Gertrude, I stitched a hemmed length of the orange brocade onto more of the sparkly trim - instant new look!  The finished dress was worn over a crinoline for the performances.

Sleeve notes:  The undersleeve puffs were made from tubes of orange brocade with a gold, embroidered, floral print and gathered on both sides.  These were then hand stitched to the sleeve to stop at the elbow.  The oversleeves were made from heavy gold curtains with beaded trim - again, gathered and hand-tacked along the orange undersleeves.  To match the neckline, I used the orange trim and lace to conveniently cover the raw, gathered edges.

Queen Gertrude (Hamlet)

Lady Alice (A Man for All Seasons)

Also, as a surprise and early Christmas gift, thanks to JoAnn's 70th anniversary sale, I received my first, brand-spanking new singer dress form - named Beatrice, or sewing Bea for short!  I had wanted for a dress form for months, and could hardly contain my excitement at no longer having to use myself as a pincushion or my sister as a model.  So, the dress and doublet above were actually the first of many creations to be pictured on my dress form.

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