Being freelance can be quite hairy at times, you can't totally enjoy any time you have off because you are constantly worried about the next few months work. Often though just as you think it's time to jack it all in and get a proper job something falls in your lap. this is what happened to me this Autumn. I had turned two dressing jobs down as it would mean working over Christmas and as this was my first Christmas with the Fella I really wanted the time off. The pay for dressing is really quite poor too, a lot of dressers have a second income. How lovely it would be to have the strong union and respect that America has. Wardrobe are generally the lowest paid department on any production but that subject is for another day.
So it was Late Autumn and although I had work lined up for January I had nothing else in the meantime. Then as per usual it was feast or famine. I was offered the work with English national Ballet that I blogged about previously, then a call checking my availability for two weeks work on Lord of the dance but it was at the same time as the Ballet. Then a call asking if I could assist the costume supervisor on a new production at The Old Vic.
It was just 3 days work on an hourly rate but it fitted in perfectly and I got to see my old friends in the wardrobe department there. Not to mention 2 tickets to a preview.
Usually during technical rehearsals I am backstage or in the wardrobe running around like a mad thing with a million jobs in my head to do and a deadline to have them done by. For once I was able to sit in the stalls for a while and watch other people doing crazy chicken impressions.
My job did still involve a fair amount of running though, as that is what I was really. Once the technical rehearsals had started the Supervisor had to be in the auditorium with the designer taking notes and addressing problems as they arose. I was despatched back and forth to the West end for needed items.
I visited several haberdashery shops for specific types of braids and fastenings. A button hook was needed ASAP for fastening the tiny buttons on ladies period boots. I improvised and got a cheap dentist kit until proper hooks would arrive in the post.
|Picture from thisislondon.co.uk|
One of the oddest requests was for mens pants with a padded bottom! For these i went to Old Compton Street in Soho. I got a strange look in the first shop but the second shop was a success.
The pants were needed for an actor who is repeatedly kicked in the rear during the play (didn't I mention it's a French farce?) Unfortunately the garment was rejected and another solution found but here are the pants with one of the pads poking out.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a runner, the snow had hit and the shops and streets were pretty empty. My only panic was racing from Oxford Street to the Aldwych in ten minutes as I thought the shoe repairers closed at 5pm but in fact they closed at 7pm. I think I had more exercise in those 3 days than I had in the last 3 months. It was such a change for me to be out and about instead of entering a building in the dark then leaving it 12 hours later in the same darkness having barely passed a window. I wouldn't normally moan as much as this but I have just heard that one of the reasons striking tube drivers believe they deserve more pay is due to spending so much time in the dark. Silly me though theatre people are in it for the love of their art though aren't they? Still a regular quote used amongst rock and roll crews is
" you pick your gig"
So to finish on a lighter note, a picture of a hat hired but sadly rejected from the production supplied by the fabulous Cosprop costume hire.