Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Dusting off the Cobwebs... With Costume Crazy! Mwahaha!

The lost blogger returns at last! Gosh, and it's nearly the end of July, and so much has gone by already. Kinda scary, in retrospect. Anyhoo. I have photos of York Mystery play goodness stashed up for an update tomorrow, but for now, here is a long-promised photo-overload of Costume Hire goodness!

My Current Project: The Pink Floofy 1840s Dress of Doom

One of my injokes in the Royal Exchange about this dress is 'Barbie Dickens' - or what the Mean Girl teenagers of the 1840s were wearing back then. Can't you just see Fanny from North and South in it? Or Blanche Ingram from Jane Eyre? This dress just screams 'evil blonde!' It also slightly looks like every pretty princess dress I drew under the age of ten. It's also made for a Twiglet - the actress' costumes are often seriously undernourished!

I am currently razzmatazzing this dress up with acres and acres of pink rose trim - only the bodice came from a previous production, and the skirt was made up by someone way more talented than I am! You can see the mend rail in the background where we put wrecks of items that need some serious costume resuscitation.

Costume Racks of Droolsomeness

In other words, the never-ending dress up box of period win. What you can see down the aisle is the amount of party frocks, period gown, wench outfits and medieval cloaks - like a Time Lord's wardrobe, except with more repairs. There's dressing gowns at the other end, as well as some decidedly Blackadder- style medieval menswear. On your right at the front of the picture is the start of the Edwardian section - that floating piece of blue tulle? None other than a Titanic deck dress rip off!

There They Blow! T'is The White Crinoline!

Behold, the petticoat rack! Possibly it has some sort of mystical Melville-esque significance. Not personally quite sure of that myself, but there's a lot of them. We have to get them down with a hook on a pole that actually does look rather like a harpoon, because they're too damn big to store on the floor. Some of them have colour and are jazzy 50s twirly petticoats. Other are steel-hooped Scarlett O' Hara monstrosities. Either way, they're huge!

Hats, Jewels, and Pinstripe Trousers
Gaze upon the not-very-mighty aisle of bits and pieces! The hats are pretty cool - there are Catherine of Aragon hoods and big 'My Fair Lady' hats all practically squashed up next to each other. Alas, no coifs or wimples of a roughly Tu Salus Fidelium period - with Shakespeare it queens and nobility, take it or leave it, baby! The thin sliver of rack to the right of this badly angled photo in the somewhat boring mens section - rows of pinstripe trousers, linen suits and tweed jackets. There are some Mr Darcy coats along there, which I shall reveal another photo day....

Monday, 18 January 2010

Books You Outgrow...

I've found that often the biggest measurement of how your writing style has changed is how your reading tastes have changed. For instance, whilst I love and am indebted to Elizabeth Goudge's The Little White Horse - the book that inspired JK Rowling with all those great Hogwarts feasts - I come back to it now and cringe at parts I used to love. The prosy speeches! The cringy preachiness! The very fifties 'children's book' feel it has. But once upon a time it was the sort of stuff I wanted to write.
Like Anya Seton's Katherine. My gran introduced me to this, when I was about ten on a holiday in the Lake District, and at the time I thought it was controversial stuff - it was a romance! But I loved the language at the time, and the fact that Anya Seton took time to minutely describe every gown and wimple in the book. And the banquets. It was like a fairytale with the extra thrill that this was all real, and based on history. Not to mention the slightly (very slight, now I come back to it) risque bits that probably weren't suitable for a ten-year old at all. The smouldering blonde Duke of Lancaster meets the fiery red-headed Katherine! They have a long and salacious affair that sets the medieval world on fire with outrage! At last he marries her!
Yeah. Coming back to it now... it's almost sa,d becuase when I last read it, it seemed like the best book in the world. Has it morphed into a cheap Mills and Boon novel when I wasn't looking? No. But I think I might have grown up a little since I last thrilled to red-haired maidens and icy blue-eyed lords. Besides which, I might have outgrown Katherine, but reading some parts (gowns, banquets, maidens), in some ways I'm still very much indebted to it. Mirrum might not be about to indulge in two chapters of saucy wedding-night detail (at least I hope not on the page ,anyway) but in some ways the gowns and banquets have probably lingered on longer than they should have done...