Friday, August 29, 2008

Home Sweet Home

After three years in Chicago, and having been away for two months, it now feels like home. And I'm so happy to be here.

During the last part of summer my crew (which sadly went from 3 to 2) and I seemed to drag. I wanted to be a strong leader, but I was tired and had to force myself out of bed in the morning, as did they. Baby, the last musical at Summer Stock, was the smallest of all the casts at sixteen, with six principals. The story did call to elapse obviously over 9 months, so there were a lot of costume changes. The only pieces we really built were pregnant bellies. We did some stenciling to make punk rock jackets and school logos and lots of altering of X-large garments into Maternity. In comparison to our 10-hour-+ days on all the preceding musicals, we averaged about 5-6 hours on this one. As dress rehearsal approached I somehow felt guilty about not working more as the director and his assistant would begin rehearsal at 9am and block well past midnight.

But it turns out that it was just a low stress show compared to the others. The day before dress and opening I played two hours of tennis and went hiking for four, which left me almost unable to stress during rehearsal because I was so physically exhausted (nice trick for high-stress days). I packed up my car with half of the stuff I brought out of my studio. My new apartment in Chicago would be half the size of the one I moved out of in the spring, and I needed room for the puppet. Yes, I did indeed haul the Fruma Sarah back with me across the Canadian Border and again across the border through Detroit. She was so scary and fun, I couldn't leave her in somebodies tent Up North to grow mold and drown in snow flooding.

After tieing up loose ends with the theater company, I hit the road. Montreal was my first stop, only four hours out of town. When I arrived at my hotel, I was exhausted, I remembered how much I hated hotels, but more, how unready I was to navigate a new city. I thought it would be exciting and I would get to practice my French, but actually I developed a nasty cold, got some Pho soup to take back to my hotel room, cried, and went to sleep. All summer I had lived and worked with people who shared my interests and goals. I missed my friends in Chicago, but I never felt lonely like I thought I would. So anxious to escape Summer Stock, I forgot to plan enough time to drive 18 hours home. The day after Montreal, I drove and drove, then sat in rush hour traffic in Toronto. And then drove and drove. The best thing about the trip with Canadian radio; I got a lenghty biography of Jesse Owens in French, Canadian Olympic victory updates, and tried to decipher the quick-tongued francophone news casters.

After a short family visit in L.A., which was wonderfully relaxing, I am back in Chi-Town at full speed. My next project is for a Latin-American dance company with one of my favorite choreographers. The work references the history and diaspora of the Sephardi community. Researching has been an interesting journey back millenia. The costumes will bear references to 13Th-Century Islamic dress, but as they are for a modern dance company, are abbreviated, of course.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday, August 8, 2008

It's been a couple weeks since I posted, and as they say, "No news is good news."  The new director is wonderful.  Fiddler on the Roof went up without too many glitches.  
He was respectful and interested in my ideas and I even made a giant puppet fruma sarah, painted by our very talented scenic artist.  (Pictures to come 
soon.)  My family arrived today.  What a feeling of support and comfort to have them here after
 driving seven or so hours.  (My dad insisted on taking the scenic route.)  They are going to see Fiddler tomorrow.  

I get extra special nervous when they are around as I know they will be judging me and accepting me in a certain way that no one else could.  

Me, I'm exhausted, creatively, emotionally, physically.  This summer has taken a lot out of me.  The blessing and curse is that I have solid work lined up until December 26 (my birthday of all days).  Yesterday I made business cards with my favorite sketch on it-The Gnat from The Cunning Little Vixen.  I designed the opera for a class in college and whenever anyone asks what show I would most like to design, I say that one, because it was one of the most creative pieces I've ever done.
I've also started to design Baby, a musical by David Shire which premiered on Broadway in 1982 about three very different couples all undertaking pregnancy at the same time.  All summer long, everyone has been saying "Oh yeah, Baby," as if to imply, "We'll get to that when it comes.  The show requires about twelve performers, which is half of the smallest show yet, with six principals.  It sounds easy, but when the show is dependent on costumes to elapse nine months, a costume change is required almost every scene, so really it's just another giant musical
This in mind, I have found myself particularly interested in Baby because of its period.  Yes, nineteen eighties are now "period," and I have discovered that most of our costume "stock" is from the nineteen eighties.  And what a proponent of the eighties I am.  For research, I have been looking at The Brat Pack, The Cosby Show, Nine to Five, Family Ties, and all the NON-REALITY TV I grew up on.  How refreshing:) 

I finally have some quality pictures from Cats and Cabaret and have posted them.  
With less than two weeks left here, I am starting to feel like I will miss the people, miss the rain, miss the itty bitty theater, the togetherness, the music, and even the stress.  But all good things come to an end and a rest is due.