Second Dress Rehearsal. 04/23/10 – Only Acts one and two tonight.
It is all about the gloves.
Susan Graham’s only costume change is in Act Three, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to do. There are the gloves, and everything is about the gloves. The first night of rehearsal, my paperwork said that Susan has a pair of gloves that are pre-set on the prop table stage right. I needed to ask her if they should be buttoned or unbuttoned, does she put them on while onstage, does she “do something” while putting them on, etc. Well, she was getting her wig fluffed around by Dottie, department head of wigs, and I forgot to ask. Her dressing room is stage left, and I was stage right leaving the gloves when I remembered I didn’t ask her. I could have called her on my cell phone – I would then be kind of like the people you see at the grocery store who were told to buy spaghetti, and they don’t know if it is spinach, gluten free, whole wheat, or what they are supposed to buy. A quick informational call, but I also know she might be on her iPhone. When you are a singer on the road for weeks or months at a time, you grab the few minutes you have to check in. It might be a call to mom and Leon, her boyfriend, or a variety of friends she stays in touch with long distance. Depending on who she is calling, or is calling her, I watch for a signal to give her privacy. I also try to do this in person when privacy is needed with fellow cast-members, directors, conductors, HGO staff, and other visitors. But sometimes, you just can’t – you are on a deadline getting them in costume so they won’t be late going on stage, so you have to think of something else in your head so you don’t listen to the conversation while working around those in the room. More often than not, the singer is moving while talking, and you are scooting around the room lacing and tying – and if you are lucky, you become invisible and nobody notices your show preparations.
Back to this show. While it shouldn’t seem surprising that an article of clothing might play a role in a character’s life on stage, in Xerxes, in seems like all the dressers are “tracking” gloves, for all characters. Tracking is a term where you are following a specific prop, costume piece, or other often used item throughout a production. In Xerxes, singers are putting on gloves, they are taking them off, people are handing each other gloves, they are bringing them on stage – then hand them off to someone, they put them on tables, chairs, and anywhere else you can leave them. And dressers need to know where these gloves are going, and how they are being used. In some cases, they are left one place at the end of a scene, but are worn by a character in the next scene, so they need to be “tracked” by a dresser who has them ready for use again, in a different setting. The stage management and wardrobe department at HGO do an incredible job creating run sheets (think really detailed schedules), that tell you where costume pieces are, where they need to be, who is wearing them, when they wear them, and often where they end up after they are worn. The same thing is done for wigs and make-up, since all of these must be coordinated as well. For Xerxes, we have tracking sheets specifically for gloves.