Tech is cram time for theatre people, which I was, until a month ago. I spent the past two years working as a wardrobe manager for the Vasey Theatre at Villanova; ten other shop girls and I would sew the costumes that our designers drew, and then, come showtime, we would keep the right clothes on the right people. Basically, the name of the game is that nobody goes onstage naked. A certain actor did go onstage naked this time last year. (“Lauren, strike this. I don’t need it.” “No. You wear it. It is your costume.” “I don’t need it anymore. Take it to the dressing room.” “No. No.” “I’m not wearing it!” “I’m not striking it!” “Take it away.” “I’ll leave it here, just in case.”) He never let me live it down. The one time I explicitly failed my duties.
Yesterday tech began for Medea, which means that no girl leaves the shop, save for the two wardrobe managers (who stay with the actors in the dressing rooms and backstage) between 10 am and approximately 11pm, until Sunday night. This lockdown translates to a lot of ordering in, and a lot of caffeine. My preference is Diet Mountain Dew; my predecessor, Anna, prefers the original. She likes white pizza; and I eat the crust. We were an excellent team.
Friday night is gloriously hectic, because the last costumes are being finished just moments before they have to go onstage. At my first tech, for The Illusion, our designer’s husband furiously bedazzled a gold gown with seconds to go. Apparently he is the official Bedazzler. Bedazzling is a critical skill in costume shops, because the sparkles glitter under the lights. We bedazzle everything. There’s a little crucifix right above the ironing board (this is Villanova), and that’s bedazzled, too. You can tell Father Peter, he won’t mind. He probably already knows. He did chair the theatre department.
We like pizza on Friday, and chocolate fudge brownies. Peace a Pizza is traditional, and Genuardi’s brownies. The first time I was sent out for supplies I made a horrible mistake and went to Acme instead of Genuardi’s; Acme doesn’t carry the big trays of chocolate brownies with icing. So I picked what I thought was next best—whole wheat zucchini bread—and nearly lost my job. That’s an understatement. Nobody was going to fire me. They were going to pull me limb from limb and sear my liver over a heap of flaming bobbins. “Where. Is. The. CHOCOLATE?” One demure grad student asked me, her eye twitching. Two more gathered behind her. “Zu. Chini. BREAD?!”
I was halfway to the grocery store by the time they discovered I had accidentally bought only caffeine free sodas.
Today there were no crises, no naked men running around, no whole wheat zucchini bread. I just cut and sewed, pinned and followed directions. Sassed a little bit when I didn’t have enough to do. Sassed a little more when I should have been working. Just like old times, but with the added calm of knowing that if something went wrong, it wasn’t my liver that was going to be ripped from my body and roasted. It would be Vivian’s. And I’d like to think I might defend her. Unless, of course, she forgot the chocolate fudge brownies.
Tags: brownies, chocolate, costumes, euripides, fudge, girls, greek literature, growing up, Jersey Girl, liver, lockdown, Medea, moving on, peace a pizza, Philadelphia, philly, pizza, roasting, sear, tech, theatre, wardrobe manager, work