Costume Blog Entry
1:00 AM Monday, July 13. 2009
Well, I hate to admit it, but this is my virgin blog entry. No, I’ve never blogged before, and so I am a virgin in your blog hands. When I taught at University, the students ended up teaching me that the Internet is so much more than just a research tool, however until now I have only read a few entries, so here goes.
At the director’s bequest, we were each asked to add something to this site, and as I am the costume designer, I would like to invite you in on a part of my journey into the delightful play, “Made In Heaven’. It is now 1AM and I have just returned from a riotous run through and tech rehearsal. It’s hard to describe how satisfying it is to see a show come together. It is especially thrilling to be able to laugh, even when watching the rehearsals again, because of the amazing production of this unusual play. Actually, the play isn’t the unusual part, unless you consider the tightly directed nuances and precisely delivered performances unusual, and that would be only because of the unusually short time we had to rehearse for this festival, but rather the unusual circumstance within the play – that of conjoined twins, an unusual costume to create.
A few weeks ago, the Managing Director of the theatre I am currently working for, called down to the costume shop to ask if one of my students might want to design a small production that a friend of his was directing. Then he informed me of the plot. I was pleased to say that I would not hand this over to a student, nor any student. I realized the subject matter needed a little more maturity, whereas there would be conjoined twins, sharing a large penis, so I was excited to handle this myself.
I met with (producer/director) Andrew Shaifer and was thrilled that his sense of humor, artistic vision, theatrical background, and general joie de vivre would go so well with mine. At first I saw the twins as joined through the hips and up into the torso, with four separate legs, with the penis set in between legs 2 and 3. After my first meeting with Jay (author) I realized that his vision was joined through the hips and down through a fused center leg, with the penis set center, in front of this third leg. Immediately to the Internet to research conjoined people, which by the way, I can only find examples of conjoining of the same sex – two boys or two girls, never one of each – but I did find examples of two separate eggs becoming conjoined, which made it OK for me to accept that one actor is two inches taller and has darker hair. Also, the actor Kevin’s mother, who is a nurse, confirms this possibility. Next came some fairly simple sketches of two people with three legs, and then I called Katie, who works in the shop making patterns and sewing up the creations required. Although it is a simple pair of jeans, done in a simple pattern, the addition of a third leg meant there were new measurements and thoughts to getting this right. Each actor has a nice physique, with a waist measurement of 30 or so inches, whereas the twins have a collective waist of 57. Each individual thigh measures approximately 18 inches, and the twins’ center leg is a good 30. The biggest ‘discovery’ in the process, was to remember that Mother Nature and the Gods of Physique and Gravity will have their way. On an average human, our pants stay up because our hips and butts are most often, together, larger that our waists and that gluteus maximus keep the pants from sliding down. While the twins each have only one outer hip, and open space from center back to center back, it made the first rehearsal, with the newly created jeans even more interesting watching the actors say lines while continually hiking up their pants. A simple contraption of elastic and the addition of a 63-inch length waist belt did the trick. At least their pants stay on so you can concentrate on the funny lines and action. I will also tell you that there is special underwear set inside the pants, but as it is now so late, I will sign off and let you just imagine how the actors and I handle the large penis. But that my dear friends, is for another blog entry on another evening.
From Costume Designer, Jeffrey Wallach