Monday, September 28, 2009


Today I was in my writing class and it was my turn to workshop my chapter. That means that people will give praise and then ask questions.
I must have gotten that deer in headlights look because my instructors encouraged me to not give up and whatever.
OK the deer in headlights thing is just a look I get when I'm processing stuff sometimes. I'm tough. I'm resilient. I don't give up. I can handle workshops.
But it made me think how being a wardrobe girl has prepared me for writing criticism.
As a wardrobe girl part of my job is to take care of my actors. This means telling them that they are beautiful, thin, talented. It means telling them that the audience loves them. It means always encouraging. It means listening to my actors. Sometimes it means cheering for my actor while they are getting ready before they go onstage. So since I can do this for other people I can do this for myself.
One thing that I love about theater is the amount of courage it takes to get up in front of an audience and tell a story. To enter into a contract with a different audience every and portray a character. It takes a bravery that I am in awe of every day.
I admire the process of creating the art.
But I like to think that being in the presence of this bravery every day has made me a better writer. It has gotten me to the point where I can put my work out there and take suggestions and compliments and be a better writer.
Seeing the process of the way a play comes together makes me realize that writing is a living ever changing thing too. When I think of how every time I read certain books I feel differently it feels like the same way when I feel when I see plays. Every performance has the chance to show me something different.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Last night I closed the show I was working on. I have to say that I was very sad to see the show end since I love the people and the music of the show.
So when we get a cast list for a show many of my coworkers go on google/IMDB to see who we will be working with. Before we had computers for use at work this was usually just done by looking in the bio in the program.
My fellow coworkers googled and found out that Tina Fabriqe, the actress playing Ella, sang the Reading Rainbow.
So at the closing night all of us 30 year olds gathered round and she treated us to a live and in person performance of the song.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Work and Identity

I work in theater. When I tell people where I work they usually ask lots of questions. Then one of three things happens.
Thing 1. My job is not interesting or important enough for them. They have to mend this in their mind. Next time I am introduced by them they say "This is Carrie. She is in charge of all the costumes at _________. " Then I have to say oh no and explain my job for real so people don't get the wrong idea about me or my duties.
I have often wondered about this need for other people to elevate me from mere Wardrobe Girl to some sort of Super Costume Woman. Over the years I have decided that it has more to do with people needing to feel more important. If they know someone who works somewhere cool it sounds even cooler and more important if they have a cool job.
Thing 2. When people know where I work I often get introduced in terms of my work. "This is Carrie. She works at _________."
This is a little less annoying because it does sometimes prove a good icebreaker for me to talk about what I do. People ask me lots of questions. But sometimes it makes me wonder because I don't always introduce people in terms of where they work. I also wonder if I would be half as fascinating if I worked in an office filing TPS reports. It is good because it pulls me out of my shell.
Thing 3. Sometimes discussion about my work leads to lots of questions and I end up feeling like I unintentionally derail the normal set path of something like a writing class because people want to talk about my job for way longer than they would want to talk about me if I was a waitress or something.
I start a new writing class on Monday which will mean meeting new people and lots of new conversations about what I do. I'm looking forward to my class and will have to send them here if they want to know about my job.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Shoe Shine Girl

When I was a kid I would watch my Dad shine his shoes every week. This was in the early eighties when people who worked in offices with computers wore suits, at least when other people were going to be at the office.
My Dad was a computer programmer but he also called himself an engineer. Since I watched a lot of Sesame Street I was sure that engineer meant someone who drove the train. I knew from Sesame Street that a train engineer wore striped bib overalls and a matching hat. But every day Dad put on a suit and tie. I never understood why he would need to wear a suit to be an engineer. I think I figured that he changed when he got to work or something.
But every week Dad would break out the shoe polish and the shoe brush and he would polish his wing tip shoes and I would watch and talk to him while he went about his shoe polishing task.
I know that a lot of men learned the art of shining shoes from their fathers but I guess I did too. I also learned the art of tying a tie from watching my Dad get ready every morning.
This has actually served me well in my job since I sometimes have to shine shoes that are in the shows. Whenever I shine shoes for a show I always remember sitting and watching my Dad shine his shoes.
Sometimes I see ads on Craigslist for shoe shine girls under the Events sections and although I'm not sure if I want to shine shoes as a job I know that I could. I also usually see a Shoe Shine Girl at the airport when I travel. This gives me hope. Besides sewing and dressing and food service I have yet another skill that I can market- shoe shining.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Last night I had a crazy dream which reminded me of my favorite crazy backstage dream.
Once I dreamed that I showed up for work not wearing my ninja quiet monochromatic black converse. Instead I was wearing tap shoes.
I am constantly worried about noisy shoes backstage ever since I worked at a theater that was just a big concrete square with a metal roof. I tend to work on quieter plays on my stage as opposed to musicals. This has led me on an obsessive search of the most quiet shoes.
But in my dream I am wearing tap shoes. So I am running around backstage and up and down the voms to all my quick changes in tap shoes. I think that there are times I tried to tip toe in the tap shoes but they still made noise.
I woke up from this dream highly entertained unlike the dream I had last night. It has always been one of my most highly entertaining theater dreams.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Code of Ethics

I found this on the internet.

A 1945 Code of Ethics for Theatre Workers Surfaces

by Janet Thielke | August 11, 2009

While appearing on Broadway in her Tony-nominated role of Jeanette in The Full Monty in August, 2001, Equity member Kathleen Freeman died of lung cancer. Equity Councillor Jane A. Johnston, a longtime friend and executrix for Ms. Freeman’s estate, later discovered among Ms. Freeman’s papers a document containing A Code of Ethics for Theatre Workers. Ms. Freeman was a daughter of a small time vaudevillian team. Her childhood experience of touring with her parents inspired this Code of Ethics, Ms. Johnston writes. She also notes: “What is particularly interesting about this list of dos and don’ts for the theatre is that it was written in 1945 when Kathleen was establishing one of the first small theatres in Los Angeles and she was 24 years old. I wish I had been told some of ‘the rules’ when I was a young actress instead of having to pick them up as I went along.”

The theatre was the Circle Players (with Charlie Chaplin among its backers), which later evolved into the Players’ Ring. Although there is no record that either company used an Equity contract (they certainly pre-dated the 99-Seat Code in Los Angeles), Ms. Johnston confirms that all the participants were professionals.

Foreword to the Code:

“A part of the great tradition of the theatre is the code of ethics which belong to every worker in the theatre. This code is not a superstition, nor a dogma, nor a ritual which is enforced by tribunals; it is an attitude toward your vocation, your fellow workers, your audiences and yourself. It is a kind of self-discipline which does not rob you of your invaluable individualism.

“Those of you who have been in show business know the full connotation of these precepts. Those of you who are new to show business will soon learn. The Circle Players, since its founding in 1945, has always striven to stand for the finest in theatre, and it will continue to do so. Therefore, it is with the sincere purpose of continued dedication to the great traditions of the theatre that these items are here presented.”

The “rules” follow:

1. I shall never miss a performance.
2. I shall play every performance with energy, enthusiasm and to the best of my ability regardless of size of audience, personal illness, bad weather, accident, or even death in my family.
3. I shall forego all social activities which interfere with rehearsals or any other scheduled work at the theatre, and I shall always be on time.
4. I shall never make a curtain late by my failure to be ready on time.
5. I shall never miss an entrance.
6. I shall never leave the theatre building or the stage area until I have completed my performance, unless I am specifically excused by the stage manager; curtain calls are a part of the show.
7. I shall not let the comments of friends, relatives or critics change any phase of my work without proper consultation; I shall not change lines, business, lights, properties, settings or costumes or any phase of the production without consultation with and permission of my director or producer or their agents, and I shall inform all people concerned.
8. I shall forego the gratification of my ego for the demands of the play.
9. I shall remember my business is to create illusion; therefore, I shall not break the illusion by appearing in costume and makeup off-stage or outside the theatre.
10. I shall accept my director’s and producer’s advice and counsel in the spirit in which it is given, for they can see the production as a whole and my work from the front.
11. I shall never “put on an act” while viewing other artists’ work as a member of an audience, nor shall I make caustic criticism from jealousy or for the sake of being smart.
12. I shall respect the play and the playwright and, remembering that “a work of art is not a work of art until it is finished,” I shall not condemn a play while it is in rehearsal.
13. I shall not spread rumor or gossip which is malicious and tends to reflect discredit on my show, the theatre, or any personnel connected with them-either to people inside or outside the group.
14. Since I respect the theatre in which I work, I shall do my best to keep it looking clean, orderly and attractive regardless of whether I am specifically assigned to such work or not.
15. I shall handle stage properties and costumes with care for I know they are part of the tools of my trade and are a vital part of the physical production.
16. I shall follow rules of courtesy, deportment and common decency applicable in all walks of life (and especially in a business in close contact with the public) when I am in the theatre, and I shall observe the rules and regulations of any specific theatre where I work.
17. I shall never lose my enthusiasm for theatre because of disappointments.

In addition, the document continued:
“I understand that membership in the Circle Theatre entitles me to the privilege of working, when I am so assigned, in any of the phases of a production, including: props, lights, sound, construction, house management, box office, publicity and stage managing-as well as acting. I realize it is possible I may not be cast in a part for many months, but I will not allow this to dampen my enthusiasm or desire to work, since I realize without my willingness to do all other phases of theatre work, there would be no theatre for me to act in.”
All members of the Circle Theatre were required to sign this document. And they must have-because the theatre, and the group into which it evolved, was successful for many years.