Thursday, April 15, 2010

Hands of Fate

Colonial Williamsburg will be hosting Mamie Gummer for an Artist-in-Residence program on May 1st. Ms. Gummer will be portraying Lady Dunmore in a few scenes, and generally swanning around looking pretty. The Costume Design Center is in a right tizzy, trying to get everything ready. This is complicated by the fact that Ms. Gummer will not be here until May 1st, and, as all you designers out there know, trying to build something to fit an absent person is nearly impossible. Also, our manager is using her visit as an excuse to have a painted silk original silk gown in the collection was photographed and then the pictures were sent to a firm in New York to be digitally printed on silk. The fabric hasn't arrived yet, but once it does, all heck will break loose. Silk gowns are fickle things at the best of times...trying to fit them to a fit model and not the actual body only complicates things.

We were invaded a week or so ago by the Products, Publishing and Learning Ventures division, who set up bright lights and filmed people talking in front of mannequins. They've edited little videos for release on CW's website, and I present them here: Colonial Williamsburg Video Player. Click on "Special Events" and then click on "Dressing Lady Dunmore." That's my boss' boss, the awesome one who got me the gig writing the play, talking about dressing Ms. Gummer. And, around minute 1:10, that's me! Wearing my ratty old purple sweater and repairing shirt cuffs. Too bad I had a curtain of hair hiding my face...

The only bad part about this is that Mamie Gummer is coming on May 1st for one day and one day all the building, the pretty costumes, the New York silk, the excitement is really only for a few hours. Then the gown will go into stock, probably to be pulled out for tours. Still, it will be a lovely addition to our collection...I just wish our artist could stay in residence a while longer.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Spring is here

Because it has been so insanely hot the past three days, spring is on mega-overdrive here. All the vegetation is going "WHEEEE, OMYGOD, OMYGOD, MUST REPRODUCE, MUST CREATE POLLEN, MUST CAST POLLEN OVER EEEEVERYTHIIIIING!!!!!! And now everything has a light dusting of electric green pollen. Good thing I'm not too allergic.

Poor Kizfiz is. He came home after spending the day with friends so covered in the stuff that he looked like a druggie rockstar who had done yellow cocaine. Mama took some pity on his sad little snorting though and hid a half a Benadryl into his peanut he is a happy, sleepin' puppy.

So everything that can flower, is. Which is too bad--usually they take their time and bloom for several weeks. This year it looks like spring will be over and done with and then next week we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming of 50-60 degrees. But on the other hand: I have a glass of lilacs next to my bed for beautiful, lilac-scented dreams.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Hot and it's monotonous

It is hot today. When I got in my car after work, the radio cheerfully told me it was 93 degrees and then promptly melted. Kizzy and I only walked about a block before his tongue was dragging on the ground. (Granted, not hard when he's only thirteen inches tall, but still.) Today made me glad that I shaved under my arms on Sunday because I could go home and rock a tank-top without having to groom first.

But with the heat comes other annoyances. First there is the fact that I am breaking out like a thirteen year old--again--and also the fact that things keep melting and/or spontaneously combusting. Then there are the Mexicans. Yes, this is racist, but remember I am trying to be a good person and stay with me here. I do not actually know where they are from, but the people who live underneath me do not speak English and, when the weather is good, will set their stereos in the window, crank up Spanish hip hop and smoke outside, occasionally playing futbol and shouting at their buddies still inside to bring out more beer. It is annoying. First there was only one apartmentful of people--young, twentysomething men--then they apparently told their friends about this great deal, because now there are at least two more apartments rented out below me and another one above me, all to people who know each other. One of the apartments contains women and children, which is probably why the noise past eleven o'clock on a worknight has gone down, but this also means toddlers running around at all hours, freaking Kismet out.

We do not get along, the Mexicans and I, for a variety of reasons. I do not like walking through clouds of cigarette smoke on my way home. I do not appreciate the finer points of Spanish hip hop. I do not like calling the police at eleven o'clock on a work night for the third night in a row and asking them to come over and calmly explain to my neighbors that some of us have to work tomorrow. For their part, they probably don't like the uppity white woman living above them letting her dog pee all over "their" front yard. I don't appreciate them throwing fried chicken bones all over said lawn which I have to then fish out of my dog's throat. It's a little tense.

I can understand why people now feel the need to just go. Just leave, to not fight for your neighborhood, if people are moving in you don't like. If you can afford it, just go. Me, with all my liberal tendencies (see below), all my moral high horses about learning other languages and appreciating cultures, cannot wait for this lease to be over. I have no desire to get to know my neighbors better, or better appreciate their culture. I am ready to move out of this apartment which is fast starting to feel like a siege state. And why? Because I also do not appreciate being oogled everytime I step out my front door. Wearing stays and petticoats, bundled up to here? Then they can point at my posterior and hoot. Baggy sweatshirt, a lame attempt to disguise the fact I am braless? Sure to garner a few raised eyebrows and some excited chatter.

And God forbid I appear in a tank top, on a day where we topped out at 93 degrees. I may not speak Spanish, but I can certainly recognise eyes pointing ten inches lower than they should be, can certainly hear wolf whistles, even if I am halfway to the laundry room. It's not acceptable, it's not even funny. I've made it clear to my landlord that this treatment--having to run the gauntlet everytime I come home--is the reason I will not be renewing in July. Why I am white-flighting, I guess. I never thought I I can't wait to. Feeling the way I do is not something I'm proud of. It's not to my credit that I feel this mean and spiteful and downright hatey. But I can't help feeling feelings.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Monday Night Lights

I had to work tonight, but they sent me home early...something about a school group booking more tickets than they needed, so only three tours went out instead of four at eight-thirty. I thought--I could do a re-write on my play! Except that, in order to hang on to my sanity, what with working two/three jobs, plus militia, I imposed a limit of a thirteen hour workday. So now I am casting about for something to write about.

The play is going well. Quite a few people have seen it and commented on it and occasionally...changed some of my words...without asking me...but overall, things are going well. This is about as unusual a situation you can get for a playwright. Usually you have to beg on bended knee and promise all sorts of sordid favors to get anyone to read your work. I appreciate all the comments, I really do, especially when someone who knows slaps me on the wrist (metaphorically) and says DO NOT UPHOLD THIS COMMON MISCONCEPTION. Okay, fine. But the changing my words--even though it is done with enthusiasm and the best of intentions--rankles a little. Granted, we are only on draft two. I get to take the changes and either keep them, toss them or make them better. If I don't agree, I get to dig in my little dramatic heels and say "look, we ARE going to make fun of Jefferson, even if it's not correct, because people know who Jefferson is and IT'S FUNNY." I have spoken to other writers connected to the Foundation, and they warned me this was a problem. Too many people trying to make sure that everything is absolutely one hundred percent historically accurate. I want that, I really do. I also want to entertain the hell out of people and make them laugh. And if it's a choice between bending the historical record or having a boring show, I choose to toss history out of the window. I have done my research. And I choose to blithely ignore it.

Speaking of defenestration, isn't that a funny word? and isn't it funny that we HAVE A WORD for throwing things out of a window? I could say "I totally defrenestrated him!" and people would know I tossed someone out a window. Isn't that weird?

Back to historical interpreting...we historical interpreters/reenactors tend to fall into two groups. The daytrippers, who will use their sewing machines to make Simplicity patters with quilter's cotton, buy a mob cap and call it a day, and the hardcore or "progressive" re-enactors who spend far, FAR too much time and money on "authentic" fabrics and handsewing. No prizes for guessing which category I'm in. But this leads to some hysterical situations where grown men are openly admiring each other's clothing and accoutrements...a situation which this eBay ad perfectly captures:

thirty seconds of hilarity.

...for the record that coat is pretty authentic, as is the gorget he is wearing and the gun, but the wig? Sigh. Farby as hell.