THE COSTUME QUEST by Barbara Biddison
Our HG Community Theatre used to have what we called a "costume warehouse." It was right across the road from the The Wellsboro House. We had to move out of that building some years ago, and now the building itself is gone...raised, I guess you call it. My memories remain though and have resurfaced as we costume BREECHES, set in 1942 with some scenes featuring Shakespeare's kings and queens and a quirky Falstaff. We are dressing for two very different historical periods right now, and here I am in 2022 looking back on a 2007 touring children's show called ONCE UPON A SHOE. I had been cast as Mother Goose, and we toured offering something like 15 shows in 2 counties. And we were in costume.
I didn't happen to have a Mother Goose outfit in my closet, so Thomas Putnam took me to the costume warehouse. I walked into this huge warehouse and saw what appeared to me like acres of carefully organized costumes. Everything from kingly garb to skimpy dresses, and shoes, and hats, and jewelry, and all sizes of ordinary period dress. There wasn't a Mother Goose section, but we found a couple possibilities and I tried them on. I walked around in each dress as Thomas cast his artistic eye on the options. He proclaimed one of them to be "perfect," as I recall, and that was that. I remember feeling so special.. I was relatively new at this community theatre business. I had been in undergraduate productions and in MU's tent theatre, and I had worn costumes for sure, but this was different. Never before had the director taken me to a costume warehouse and let me try the possibilities for my character.
I hope our cast of 8 for BREECHES is feeling special too. We have dresses, and "costume costumes," and uniforms, and even a fat suit. They are coming back from a costume hunt as I write this, and I'm off to see what they found!