labricoleuse: (shoes!)
The sad announcement came through on the USITT costumers' e-list digest, that Costume Designer Irene Corey passed away on October 13th.

In addition to being an award-winning costume designer whose work has been seen the world over, Ms. Corey was the author of two textbooks, The Face is a Canvas on makeup design and Mask of Reality on costume design theory. Dr. Carale Manning Hill wrote her doctoral dissertation on Ms. Corey's career.

Corey was born in 1925 in rural Iowa, and began working in theatre in the 1940s. She has designed for numerous productions and her character creation company has produced walkarounds for children's television, film, theme parks, sports teams, corporations, you name it. She will be sorely missed among the professional costuming community.
labricoleuse: (Default)
Sorry for the radio silence--i've got a lot of irons in the fire right now, but am not sanctioned to write about any of them...yet! I promise i'll have some cool process posts soon. But academia, that's always fair game to write about. Millinery class is underway and i have a few short notes of interest on that subject.

First up, Parisian milliners Estelle Ramousse and Fabienne Gambrelle have a new book out, called Studio Secrets: Millinery. This is admittedly not the best book at first glance. It's a project book, with step-by-step instructions on how to make different styles of hats, and the hats themselves are not particularly jawdropping.

However! I'm glad i bought it for our library, if only because Ramousse does a blocked cloche project with toile gomme, a millinery material that you can't find in the US (to my knowledge...i'd love to be proven wrong by someone with a link to a stateside source). Toile gomme is like a cross between buckram and burlap--it's loosely woven from jute yarns, impregnated with a starchy adhesive. I loved seeing how she works with it, and her methodology on that project is quality stuff. The book's only $20, so that's money well spent, IMO.

I've collected a few interesting links on the hat topic as well. Enjoy!

We're doing buckram projects in my class right now--the students are working away on fascinators and pillboxes while learning to use the material--so hopefully there will be some great project photos to share soon!
labricoleuse: (paraplooey)
Things are crazy busy right now as the costume shop rolls toward tech for our next production, The Importance of Being Earnest, but i scraped together a few spare minutes this morning for a quick post anyhow.

First up, i'm shocked and disappointed to hear that Brandeis University is abandoning all theatre tech/design graduate programs. For now their retaining their Acting MFA program and their undergrad theatre department, but without any design or production faculty, i suppose those students and the entire Brandeis theatregoing community has a lot of "yoga pants on a bare stage by ghostlight" productions to look forward to. I suspected this might be coming for them, when i read how hard the Brandeis endowment ate it with the Bernie Madoff scam, but i guess i held out hope that they'd somehow cling on.

The Brandeis grads and faculty are PO'd (rightfully so, as apparently many of them found out via press release), and have started a Facebook group to mobilize. There's some fascinating discussion going on in there about the projected fallout of this decision, various alternatives being proposed (from selling off university assets to ditching the graduate actors instead, etc etc), heated discussions but largely respectful.

And, i promise once i have a bit more time for writing, i'll follow up on how my willow block turned out, but for now, a few behind-the-scenes pics of the Earnest Frippery Factory! I have to say, i literally couldn't do this show without my cadre of crafts assistants and volunteers--PRC Costume Technician Erin Rodgers and assistant milliners Candy McClernan and Liz Morrison. Thanks, ladies! Everything is going to look beautiful!

parasols, hat blocking, and a sneak peek at Lady Bracknell's derby-Eugenie... )
labricoleuse: (Default)
My dear colleague Ken Strong died yesterday, with a smile on his lips and people who loved him around him, apparently as peaceful and as graceful a death as brain cancer could allow anyone.

I know the tendency is to remember people as better than they were in life, but all the cliches are actually true when it came to Ken--literally no one who had met him thought he was less than excellent. He lived a huge life, a life of grins and grand gestures and the kind of laughter that pulls you giggling in its wake, glad to be part of the joke.

Ken was a scholar, a teacher, an actor, an orator, a mentor and a friend. This is a poem which i have loved since i was a child, but which while i've known him, i've associated with Ken. I don't know why--i don't even know if he ever read it (though he probably did, being a well-read guy). I transcribe it here in his memory.

The Day is Done )

There will be a memorial service for Ken on Monday January 18th at 1pm in the Paul Green Theatre on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can find the Paul Green in the Center for Dramatic Art located at:

250 Country Club Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27599

There are no street numbers listed on University buildings, but you should be able to find us if you google map/mapquest/gps that address.

Ken's wife, Kee, has asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made in Ken's name to the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center. For further information you can visit their online donation site:

Rest, Ken. You've been at peace as long as i've known you.
labricoleuse: (dye vat)
The surface design, fiber art, and dyeing community has lost a valued member in Pat Williams, who passed away earlier this month.

Pat was a weaver, fiber artist, textile production teacher (particularly in jacquard weaving technique), and an active member of the Surface Design Association. She was the founder and moderator of the DyersLIST, an email list for textile surface design artists working with the medium of dye. Of particular note for me--Pat was bravely participating in a clinical trial for a potential treatment of pancreatic cancer, a horrific iteration of the disease which also claimed my aunt Mary Ruth this past October. I know that Pat will be much missed in so many areas of the textile community.

Here is the official obit:

Patricia A. (Pat) Williams, age 65, of Brighton and Alpena MI, passed away Thursday, December 17, at University of Michigan Hospital with family by her side. Pat was a participant in a clinical trial for treatment of pancreatic cancer.

She was born on April 19, 1944, in Corpus Christi TX, to parents Ellsworth and Charlotte Johnson, who preceded her in death. After living in several areas of the country, she settled in Ann Arbor, teaching at Eastern Michigan University as a professor of textile arts. In 1990 she married Lawrence (Larry) Stewart, the cherished love of her life, who preceded her in death. Pat is survived by her brother Rick Johnson (Sue); nephew Erik Johnson and niece Stephanie Johnson Chambrovich (Hugh); step-children Shelly and Duncan Stewart; and granddaughters Samantha Boyer, Jennie and Julee Stewart.

As a master weaver in her own right, Pat's interest was in translating the colors, forms, and textures of nature into woven works of art. A celebration of her life and art is being planned for the spring, in conjunction with the generous donation of her loom and educational support materials to Eastern Michigan University.

Condolences may be posted at Pat's online memorial guestbook.
labricoleuse: (milliner)
I think probably every person on the planet knows that Michael Jackson, who was indisputably a man of both many talents and many flaws, passed away yesterday at 50 from a heart attack.

Of interest to me though & perhaps unbenownst to most, Jackson--a prodigy, popstar, recluse, an extraordinary dancer and indubitably damaged crazy-person--was also a patent-holder on an innovative stage/shoe-interface design, which he developed with co-inventors Michael L. Bush and Dennis Tompkins. The invention allowed him and his dance troupe to perform the gravity-defying leaning-stance dance moves featured around 7:19 in the "Smooth Criminal" video.

Apertures in the shoes' heels interfaced with pegs in the stage floor, which raised into position for the leaning move and dropped back again afterward to restore a seamless floor surface. You can peruse the entire patent, complete with illustrative diagrams on its construction and use, here on Google. I cropped some of the diagrams though behind this cut:

illustrations )

I mean, i'm not saying MJ was out in the shop machining parts for these or soling footwear or anything, but nevertheless, his contribution to the conception and execution was essential, and thus, whatever else you might have to say about his oddities and transgressions of the past decade-plus, i salute him for his many talents across a range of arts disciplines, including my own. Great idea executed to great effect.

Requiescat, Jacko.
labricoleuse: (history)
How about bad news first? (Well, i guess some might consider the flagrant abuse of alliteration in the post title "bad news," too, but that's beside the point.)

As a former longtime member of the greater Boston area theatre community, I was sad to see North Shore Music Theatre announcing their closure after 55 years. Some time back, they put out an emergency call for funds, needing to come up with $2M in order to stay afloat, a sum that proved too much for them to raise.

Add one more to the casualties list:

RIP, North Shore. I've run into performers the nation over with fond memories of your weird-shaped house and appreciative audiences. Thanks for all those outsourced garment-distressing jobs you used to send us over at the ART; seems like i cut my painter/dyer teeth on your grime needs. May your staff find new jobs, commensurate and swiftly.

But, to follow up on a positive note with another recent panic-button klaxon: Oregon Ballet Theatre is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from THEIR fundraising goal of $750,000 to remain operating for next season! I've been following performing arts company closures and layoffs in the news since the bubble burst, and thankfully, for every one of us that falls, several more manage to cling on a bit longer. Guess Portlanders aren't ready to sacrifice ballet yet; great news for the OBT and the greater community of dance production professionals in general.

And, here's some exciting news closer to home for me:

For the second year in a row, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded PlayMakers Repertory Company of Chapel Hill a prestigious Access to Artistic Excellence Grant in support of our production of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, and the in-depth outreach program we're launching in conjunction: The Dickens Initiative (which will emphasize literacy through the rich storytelling of Charles Dickens, and partners our theatre with libraries, schools, book clubs and university organizations throughout our region).

And, as part of The Dickens Initiative, I'm super-excited to announce the launch of the production blog, Nicholas Nickleby Page to Stage. The blog will update on a weekly basis, featuring a different guest blogger each week (including Yours Truly at some point soon!). For any LiveJournal folks who'd like to read the blog via an LJ flist, I've set up a syndicated account for it at [ profile] nicknickleby.

As much as i appreciate the convenience of blog post aggregation, there are definitely some cool features on the NNP2S homepage though. In addition to posts by "Bloggers of the Week," dynamically-refreshing sidebar features include an excerpt from the original novel, a "Dickens vocabulary word of a day," links to other Charles Dickens sites on the web, and a "quotable quote" spotlight.

The inaugural post is from Joseph Haj, PlayMakers' Artistic Director and one of two co-directors of our Nicholas Nickleby production (along with Tom Quaintance, who's going to probably be the next blogger-in-line). Joe talks a bit about the relevance and import of this play-cycle in these times, and also makes reference to the exciting news that playwright David Edgar will be in-residence at PRC during a portion of our production process! Man, can you tell i'm psyched about this? :)

I find the idea of production blogs to be really inspiring, fascinating, and of great academic interest for future dramaturgs. (I almost went that route, dramaturgy, instead of costume production, in fact, due to how much i love research and history. But i digress.) The production process has always been something that treads a fine line between the practical and the magical--the psychological alchemy of an actor's character development exists side-by-side with the highly technical capabilities of say, the theatre's electrician. On any given day during the gestation period of a play, you might have a hundred people doing a hundred different things, all equally important to the piece of artwork the production eventually becomes, and how do you document any of that?

I mean, clearly, you have some people like myself, writing about it in blogs or emails, or letters or journals or published articles or books. After the fact, you have a series of tales told by its participants which become the stuff of legend ("I'll never forget, one night early in the run, when he missed his mark, stepped right off the apron of the stage into the orchestra pit and broke his ankle...but he finished the monologue!"). You have reviews in the paper from critics who discuss the performances and production values, and perhaps even accounts from audience members who particularly enjoyed or hated it in their own blogs and letters and such.

I'm excited though about the concept of production blogs tracking the process itself in something close to real-time. It doesn't need to be something as extreme as say, an actor microblogging a rehearsal on Twitter (which would probably be about as exciting to read as watching paint dry..."OMG we're running act2sc4 AGAIN - time 4 break plzzzz" [1]), but the formation and maintenance of a public avenue of textual expression--complete with the opportunity for readers to respond with comments--is pretty cool.

In talking about the nature of the collaborative process of theatre, i don't mean to imply that the individual's talent is lessened any--i fully believe that a good actor can give a monologue in a sweatsuit by flashlight powerful enough to make an audience member cry; a skilled scenic painter can produce a backdrop so beautifully done that it stands alone as a piece of 2D art; and I know i can make a hat or sculpt a mask worthy of solitary display in an exhibit box. But, as accomplished as ALL those things are, when that actor puts on my mask or my hat and performs that monologue in front of that brilliantly-painted drop? That's the next level. That's theatre.

So, i can write my blog here at La Bricoleuse, and that's great. This blog is something of which i am inordinately proud, creeping up on hubris. (Don't worry, i don't plan to kill any strangers at a crossroads.) But seriously? As diverse as this blog's focus can be, it's still filtered through the lens of a single writer with an occasional collaborant. It's a particular slice of the theatrical pie. A production blog like NNP2S, with a roster of bloggers all offering their singular take on their experience of a collective experience, well, wow. Just as theatre practitioners today find themselves looking dramaturgically at plays we produce in terms of prior productions, I like to think about some company twenty or fifty or 200 years from now being able to look back and read what various members of our company thought and did while bringing this production about.

I don't know that the production blog will become something common or standard--i know ours isn't the first, nor will it be the last. Perhaps it will be successful, or perhaps it won't actually function in the way that we hope or envision. Who knows. For my part, though, i'm certainly interested to see where it goes, regardless!

[1] Jokes aside, PRC is tweeting as well, and they're also x-posting the blog via their Facebook page.
labricoleuse: (ass head mask)
I've been posting about performance arts organizations tanking in the economic downturn since last year, but today i received an email about the first big related commercial industry closure i've gotten wind of.

Odds Costume Rentals in NYC, in business for 22 years, is closing up shop as of July 1st, 2009. They're selling off all their stock--but not as a single purchase lot, like when the BBC decided to eliminate their costume storage division and sold it in toto to Angels Costumiers. Odds is opening their doors to the public starting June 12th to sell it piece-by-piece.

This announcement of Odds closing is interesting to consider juxtaposed with the recent Portland Arts Watch article on the uncertain future of the Oregon Ballet Theatre, who are on the verge of collapse despite doing some seriously good business in ticket sales. The comments on the post are worth a read, too, covering a range of points from the usual arguments ("Why should we care about the ballet when people are starving?") to some specific criticisms from locals regarding the OBT's cultural value vs the skill of its leadership. Forewarning: you do have to sort through some trolls suggesting the ballerinas become strippers if they want to eat in this economy, though. Still, a good discussion. Portland Arts Watch also did an interesting blog post on "How to think about arts groups in trouble," which poses a list of points on which to consider such announcements of impending closures or calls for aid.

You know, every time i read one of these knock-down drag-out mudslinging discussions full of folks making vitriolic statements like, "I don't want my hard-earned money going to support the arts, nobody cares about ballet/opera/theatre, why don't those people get a real job," I always wonder if, on some level, "the arts" is just a stand-in in their minds for "gays." "I don't want my hard-earned money going to support gays, nobody cares about gays, why don't those people get a real job." I mean, rarely do you hear outraged people griping about things like, "I don't want my hard-earned money going to support the public library, nobody cares about the park-&-rec, why don't those lifeguards and librarians get real jobs." And yet, no lifeguard or librarian's salary comes from the direct revenue of a public swimming pool admission fee or the late charges from borrowed books. The level of negativity and the distancing language of "those people," it's weirdly disproportionate to the situation, that any employer would dare to announce that they're in budgetary straits, be it a ballet company or a furniture store or a vacation Bible camp.

The closing of Odds Costume Rentals is a good concrete example of the domino effect of arts cutbacks--unlike the not-for-profit arts organizations which comprised a good chunk of their customer base, they're a profit-driven corporation who catered to the arts and entertainment areas. If you have a regional theatre in your city, chances are its audiences have seen some of Odds' inventory on their stage at some point in the past 22 years.

The arts are just as tightly woven into the web of the economy as any other industry. We scale back the number and type of shows we produce to accomodate budget cuts, and the places who depend on the business we bring them fail--not just companies like Odds whose connection is clear, but other less-directly-connected businesses as well. The printer who handles all the posters and programs for the failing opera company loses a big, guaranteed recurring contract. The catering company who runs the lobby kiosks in a theatre is down all the daily assured revenue from pre-show and intermission sales. It's like an ecological system--if a blight kills a species, everything that depended on that species for food is at best a little hungrier, and at worst starves to death.

And so, to eulogize:

RIP, Odds. I'd say i'll miss you, but to be honest, your footwear selection sucked--i don't know how many pairs of your shoes i had to resole or patch their giant tears and holes to make it through runs of shows. So in that respect, as a crafts artisan, I'm not running out of hankies here.

Nonetheless, your hanging stock graced the stages of countless productions on hundreds of stages and screens, including our own at PlayMakers and many other theatres for which i've worked, and the costume designers of the east coast and beyond will sorely miss you. American theatre has one less closet from which to pull together the wardrobes of its characters. Let's hope your passing is a sole casualty, that the market will bear the business of your remaining competitors, and not that yours foretells more closures to come.

And, if i'm completely truthful, the next time i'm belt-sanding some unacceptably-new pair of oxfords for some supposed-to-be-homeless dude in a street scene of a Dickensian saga (ahem, like Nicholas Nickleby this fall), i'll even shed a tear for your already-artfully-broken-down shoddy-soled patchable footwear stock.

For those interested in shopping the going-out-of-business sale:

Odds hours: 10AM-4PM Monday to Friday

Odds is located at 231 W 29th St, 3rd floor, NYC, (212) 268-6227, and will be open weekends after June 12th.
labricoleuse: (macropuppets!)
First, the good news:

The New Zealand Hat and Hair Awards were just held on November 29th! The article has a photo of the winning entry, and the event's website has a lot of photos of the past two years' worth. What with this and the World of Wearable Art awards, NZ is certainly the place to be for wearable artwork! Amazing stuff.

...but, there's bad news, too.

I feel i'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the economic casualties in the American regional theatre community of the past few days.

  • California: San Jose's American Musical Theatre closing and declaring bankruptcy.
    The final decision to cease operations was made at a board meeting last week, and the employees were notified Wednesday. [You're reading that correctly: the AMT laid off their staff on the day before Thanksgiving. Personally, i'd have at least waited til Monday after, on principle.]

  • West Virginia: Theatre West Virginia to close, an announcement that came just three days after their 2009 season programming announcement.
    [General Manager Gayle] Bowling said Tuesday the board of directors has given her two weeks to decide how to dispose of the company's assets, its offices in Mabscott and an amphitheater at Grandview Park. She expects total shutdown within a month.

  • South Carolina: Charleston Stage cuts staff, salaries.
    Charleston Stage, the city’s largest theater company, announced today that it cut three full-time staffers from its payroll and issued a 6 percent pay cut for everybody else, including Julian Wiles, the company’s founder and director.

  • Wisconsin: Madison Repertory Theatre to lay off half its staff.
    Positions they decided to cut: managing director, production manager, development officer, graphic designer, scenic painter, and props master.

My heartfelt sympathy goes out to all these folks, not only for the loss of their jobs at a particularly unfortunate time (midwinter/holidays), but in two cases for the dissolution of their theatres altogether as well. When a theatre goes under, it leaves a hole in the community that it serves.

They say things are going to get worse, in general, before they get better--i wonder how many more regional theatres will go under before it's all over?
labricoleuse: (milliner)
Rosemary Ingham (1936-2008), the reknowned costume designer and professor of theatre arts, passed away from the effects of a stroke on July 13.

Most every student of costume design and production learned their craft from her seminal texts, written in tandem with co-author Liz Covey, The Costumer's Handbook, The Costume Designer's Handbook, and The Costume Technician's Handbook. She designed costumes for theatres and festivals all over the country, including the Utah Shakespearean Festival, the Alley Theatre, Arena Stage, the American Players Theatre, and many more; she also managed the costume shop for five years at the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.

Ingham was educated at the University of Virginia, Yale School of Drama, the University of Montana, and St. John's College; she taught at Southern Methodist University and the University of Mary Washington. She was one of the founders of both the Long Wharf Theatre and the Great River Shakespeare Festival. She was attending the GRSF when she passed away. She is survived by four sons and four grandchildren.

Her services have already been held, but memorials may still be sent to the organizations of Rosemary's choice, the Great River Shakespeare Festival, Rosemary Ingham Memorial Fund c/o Cherie Harkenrider, 79 E. Third St., Winona, Minn. 55987, or to Planned Parenthood USA.

As you can tell just from this short obituary, Rosemary lived life out loud. The costuming community will sorely miss her voice among our harmonies.

labricoleuse: (me)
Two memorials in a single day, one for a theatre and one for a genius in the field.

Upon arriving at work today, i saw posted in the foyer the lengthy obituary article for Kermit Love from the Times.

Love is by far best known as the production artisan who created Jim Henson's iconic best-friend duo, Big Bird and Snuffleupagus. He was also a reknowned costume designer for stage and screen, particularly ballet. For me, Love's most incredible work was Ravel's The Spellbound Child, which i saw broadcast on PBS many years ago, featuring (among a host of amazing puppets) a singing, dancing armchair. I was fairly young when i saw it, and it really made a lasting impression on me.

The Theatre Development Fund has an extensive bio of Mr. Love on their site from when they awarded him the 2007 Artisan Award. All the obits in the news right now mention the fact that Mr. Love is survived by his partner of 50 years, Christopher Lyall. Mr. Love was 91.
labricoleuse: (paraplooey)
The sad news of the demise of Minneapolis' internationally-reknowned, innovative Theatre de Jeune Lune should be duly acknowledged. After thirty years of highly visible, daring, innovative productions and despite winning the Tony for regional theatre three years ago, they are now a million dollars in the hole and have chosen to dissolve the company, selling off their theatre to settle the debt.

It's funny, reading the articles about it in the press and in theatre fora online, a lot of doomsaying is going on about regional theatre, how Jeune Lune's tanking portends the fall of regional theatre as an institution. There's also a lot of (IMO naive) rebuttals about capitalism and how "if regional theatres sold more tickets" no one would have to worry. I feel like all of this is reductive and somewhat blinkered. No professional regional theatres operate on a budget funded by ticket sales alone. I remember being surprised when i worked at the Utah Shakespearean Festival and read the statistic that something like 80% of their operating budget does come from ticket sales, because that's a huge percentage. Amateur community theatres don't operate on ticket sales alone. And if the only art that survives is the art that makes Big Money, wow, is that a culture i don't want to live in.

Almost all regional theatres are in the hole. The thing is, there isn't a single formula to fix the problem. (In fact, i believe that is part of the amazing possibility of regional theatre, each one is particular to its home region.) It's contingent upon each theatre's community, its direction and the type of art they produce (or wish to produce, or are willing to restructure to produce). It's the universal theatre challenge, in fact, to make the kind of work you want to make at the level of quality you feel it deserves, within the budget you have to work with and for the people who come to see it.

With Jeune Lune, it's telling that they found themselves one million dollars in the red three years after winning the Tony. Winning the Tony is usually a huge boost in a theatre's fundraising machinery. A lot of people are griping about Artistic Director Dominque Serrand being at fault, but i don't row that boat--Serrand is the Artistic Director. His role is to steer the theatre aesthetically. Jeune Lune has tanked not because Serrand drove it into the ground, but because someone or a collection of someones in the administration and development of the theatre mismanaged the financial side of things, and/or was afraid to rein in the scale of the budget. (Full disclosure: I worked on Serrand's production of The Miser when it was remounted at the American Repertory Theatre some years ago. I think i met the man once, but i figure i should acknowledge that i worked for him.)

If the institutional culture at Jeune Lune was such that no one wanted to discuss finances with the artistic staff, that's a problem in and of itself. I have worked at a few organizations where that was the general way of things--that the artists were allowed to exist in a hermetically-sealed creativity-bubble, and no one in the administration ever placed financial restrictions on them. That's certainly one way to run your theatre, but it's a dangerous gamble of a way to do it. As a member of the technical production community, i know for a fact that budget is not a be-all end-all limitation--you give me an outlandish design, cool; i don't need a limitless budget (though i can spend a limitless budget if it's there), i just need to know whether i have $100 to work with or $1000 or $10,000. Or $10. I can find ways to make something performative and magical for any cost, honestly. That's MY job. Hell, some of the most amazing production values i've ever seen were costumes made from salvage for street Butoh. Cut your materials budget, not your creative staff.

I believe too that some of the loss of Jeune Lune can be laid at the feet of its location--Minneapolis' professional theatre community is huge and vital and well-known. It's harder to be a big fish in Minneapolis, funding-wise, due to the number of really excellent companies drawing from the pockets of regional donors. Since government support is in the toilet and international reknown doesn't always translate into international financial backers, Jeune Lune perhaps paid a price in that fashion as well.

Regardless, I am certain that the theatre community mourns the loss of Jeune Lune, and my heart goes out to her creative and technical staff, left jobless and artistically homeless in such a last-ditch fashion. Best wishes and luck to you, Lunies, on whatever the next great adventure holds.
labricoleuse: (ass head mask)
I came home from an exciting first day on Shrek to the sad news that legendary SFX artist Stan Winston has lost his battle with cancer.

Mr. Winston's LA studio created ingenious effects work, creatures, and animatronics, everything from the titular apparati of Edward Scissorhands to the Alien Queen to his most recent, the Iron Man armor. His workshop produced mindblowing stuff of unparalleled quality, and Mr. Winston was the recipient of four Oscars. I don't know anyone who works in entertainment production who wasn't completely floored by Winston's creativity, skill, artisanship, and artistry.

The LA Times has a slide show of images of his best-known work.

We've truly lost a master of his art.
labricoleuse: (history)
PlayMakers was scheduled to announce the titles of the six plays which will comprise our 2008-09 season at a combination press conference/party this evening in our theatre's lobby. However, the event has been canceled in respect for the memory of our slain student body president, Eve Carson, who was shot and killed early Wednesday morning by an unknown assailant.

Eve Carson

The News & Observer has the most current news on developments in the investigation of this horrific crime, as well as several memorial articles. More info can also be found via the UNC student paper, the Daily Tarheel. Various services and vigils in Eve's honor will be announced in those publications. Here is a link to Chancellor Moeser's letter to the university community and a memorial for Ms. Carson as well.

My deepest sympathies go out to Ms. Carson's family and friends, and to all those who are grieving here in our community.
labricoleuse: (shakespearean alan cumming)
As we approach our own November production tech week here at PlayMakers/UNC, i want to pause and mark the untimely passing of one of Yale's MFA tech production graduates, Pierre-Andre Selim.

Mr. Selim was killed this past weekend in a load-in accident preparing for Yale Repertory's forthcoming production of Tartuffe. Because Mr. Selim was working as a student and not an employee of the company, OSHA is not investigating the accident, and according to the local news station WTNH, Selim was wearing a hardhat at the time of the accident. More details are available at the Yale Daily News.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Pierre-Andre Selim
image courtesy of

So often i hear people talk about theatre production as "fun" (which it certainly is) and refer to the work that we do as "play" (which it frankly is not). Though we create wonder, entertainment, and artwork, we also practice sophisticated artisanship and craft, employ tradesman's skills and put in hard labor. Danger is always present--one can fall from the lighting grid, be scalded by a toxic dye process bath, or as in the case of poor Mr. Selim, be crushed by set material shifting in a truck.

At this time when so many of us in America are approaching a holiday season of family, sharing, and gratitude, it is especially tragic to see a loss of one of our own in the theatrical production community. (Mr. Selim was from Indonesia and completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Singapore before coming to the US for graduate study at Yale. Perhaps his family doesn't even celebrate winter holidays, i don't know.)

My heart goes out to Selim's loved ones in their loss, and on behalf of my own theatre family and graduate program, our thoughts are with those at Yale mourning the loss of their colleague.
labricoleuse: (Default)
Fashion stylist Isabella Blow passed away this past week, and i'd like to mention a bit about her.

Ms. Blow is directly responsible for the career of a man who some say is the greatest living milliner, Philip Treacy, as well as fashion icon Alexander McQueen.

You cannot really be familiar with the hatwork of Treacy without knowing the face of Isabella Blow, whom Treacy considered his muse and to whom he paid tribute in the art book When Philip Met Isabella;, the publication of which was accompanied by a traveling museum exhibit of not only many of Treacy's most famous hats but also the hat blocks on which he created them (link features tons of hat and hatblock images).

Blow was buried in a willow coffin wearing one of her favorite hats, and during the service Treacy's iconic hat, The Ship, graced the top of the casket amidst a blanket of white flowers. Around 350 people attended the services at Gloucester Cathedral, and the eulogy was delivered by Rupert Everett. Ms. Blow had been suffering from advanced ovarian cancer, though it is generally believed that she took her own life. She was 48.

What does an artist do when his muse has died?

December 2016

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