Ah, the theater. Once you go stage you can never go back … but what’s really behind the curtain?
Growing up, I was not theatrically inclined. I had a vivid imagination, but it was only in my mind. When high school came around, my verrry high energy best friend went the theater route; to me that meant that theater was not for me. (Not only was I *not* high energy, but we had mostly opposite likes and dislikes. And yes, we are still best friends.)
Fast forward more than a decade, and my best friend — and many of our peers — are living the life I thought I’d be living (marriage and motherhood), while I was well paid and well enough loved, but degreeless and working a dead end job. Thinking the two Ms were in my future, and wanting to be a better wife and better example as a mother, I abruptly quit my job to ‘make a living as an artist’.
. . . . . I’ll pause while you catch your breath, because you’re probably dying of laughter right now.
So I left that good, sweet money and set out onto my new path. I quickly found my new path was not a path, but an uncharted wilderness. I also found that I had baggage weighing me down; my own doubts, weaknesses, and insecurities, and a distinct lack of support from all the ‘practical’ people around me. Eventually, I found my calling: fashion design. I bought a sewing machine, stumbled horribly through making a custom garment for a paying customer, and realized I needed free training and guidance, because I’d burned through all my savings.
Enter, the theater.
Happily, Boston has enough of an arts scene with enough lack of funds that there are always roles for inexperienced people. But even luckier than my first unpaid gig was that I got a paying costume design job a few weeks later! I thought I’d arrived.
That was three years ago. Since then, I’ve worked on about six or seven productions, mostly in the role of costume designer/costumer/wardrobe mistress/dresser. I’ve learned that costume design is not the same as fashion design; how to accept feedback; how to do as I’m told; how to ask for help; how to handle responsibility; how to meet deadlines; etc. But more than anything, working in the theater has forced me to shed some of that baggage, especially my sense of inferiority. You cannot be responsible, accountable, productive, helpful, or proud of your work if you’re wrapped in self-loathing.
In the coming months, I’m working on another production, and plan to learn more about the industry and the craft of costume design. Fashion design is still my goal, but #theaterlife has helped me develop the skills to achieve it.