Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ode to a Best Friend

My Niki! - Photo by me!
This is my Niki, isn't she pretty? Niki is one of my best friends in the entire world. She also happens to be my partner in costuming out at faire. She and I have been doing this together for two years now, and honestly I don't know what I would do without her.

She is my rock and she is my sanity. When I am ready to scream and quit she is the one who calms me down. I am fairly certain I have not ripped all of my hair out yet because of her. I know no matter what I am not in this insanity alone, and that is often enough for me.

There are a lot of people who don't understand that Niki and I are partners in this whole costuming venture. Neither one of us is in charge and never have been. If you want to blame someone for being in charge you have to look to our director, as he is the one that makes all the real decisions. Our sole job is to make sure that the cast is wearing the correct things to help realize our directors vision for the faire.

We do this by working together and sharing equal responsibility for every decision made.  Neither of us make any decisions unless the other has been consulted. Whether it be as simple as color or fabric approvals or something more complicated like actual design aspects, we always consult one another. I spend more time carbon copying her on emails than just about anything else it seems.

We have both been doing costuming in some form or another for a very long time, so we know that the other knows what they are talking about. I know that she has researched our period of costuming just as much as I have so we never worry that the other is going to suddenly start to try and pull in non period aspects of dress. That alone is very important.

Matt (Thomas Cromwell)- Photo by Ariana Berdy
I tend to end up handling most of the paperwork and bureaucracy of the job. One of us has to make all of the announcements, posts to the e-groups, and be a main point of contact. It turns out I have a desk job where I sit in front of a computer all day and can easily draft emails and make lists and spreadsheets to my hearts delight. It allows me to be useful while I would otherwise not be able to contribute to the process.

Niki handles the lions share of the sewing that we are responsible for. She doesn't have a job outside sewing so she is able to dedicate large amounts of time to physically working on costuming. I will take in minor repair work and basic construction that I can squeeze into my evenings while Niki does all the heavy lifting.

Let me break it down a little more for you:
There are about 126 memebers of the cast.
32 of these people are wearing a costume made by Niki. (12 of those are bodices only)
Husbeast (Anne de Montmorency) - Photo by Bill McCurry
23 of those costumes she made this year.
3 of those costumes made this year were full mens court garb (one being the husbeast), including one great coat.
 4 of those costumes made this year were full womens court gowns (one being mine).

So she is doing a lot of work. We thankfully  have some other insanely talented seamstresses working with us also making beautiful costumes for us, because I honestly don't think Niki could do any more work. She started sewing for this season back in October, though she only got a few completed since most of the work was for new cast members.

Doing this job isn't simple. We don't just get to let everyone make something vaguely historically accurate that they like. If it were that simple my job wouldn't really be a job. There is making sure that the costuming is as historically accurate as we can manage while understanding this is theater and there are modern restrictions we have to account for.

Joe Baker (Jean-Pierre le Droit)- Photo by Bill McCurry
The harder part of this is the fact that this is an ensemble show with a directorial vision. Our performers have to in the end make that vision complete. We have to assure uniformity to a point so that our groups are recognizable and at the same time have to create a sense of identity and individuality for each character.

I love that we get to go through character class with all of our performers so that we can make costuming adjustments as is needed. I can look at our coffin maker and know that we need to make sure she is in darker muted colors with clean simple lines because it accentuates her characters personality. At the same time I can look at our nun and know that we need  to make sure that her habit has extra room in it because she is going to be fighting.

Me! - Photo By Ron Wheeler

Our work won't stop just because faire starts. Every day will start with us laying eyes on all of our actors to make sure they are still looking their best. Many times you will find us backstage patching pants, replacing buttons, and doing other last minute emergency repairs. Come the end of the weekend we will typically each have at least one item of costuming coming home with us to be fixed or altered. I spend far more of my day checking peoples crotches for holes than I ever should.

Every day from the first to the last Niki is there for me. We lean on one another so much that I am not sure we can stand on our own most days. I swear at this point we share a brain. We vent to one another, and laugh together, and work together, and I can't imagine it any other way.

Niki is the most important person in my faire world. I am not certain she realizes just how much she does for all of us. She would say that she is just doing what she does, which is just another reason she is so amazing.

Thank you for being my Niki. Thank you for holding me up when I want to fall down. Thank you for making me laugh when I want to cry. Thank you for slapping some sense into me when I need it. Thank you for making me beautiful, not to mention the rest of the cast. Thank you for being my sounding board. Thank you for standing by my side and holding my hand. Thank you for making all the pain and annoyance bearable. Thank you for letting me be your thumb. Thank you for being you. 

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