The final moments of the play.
This was a fast and furious process … particularly as educational theatre processes go. Typically, we have 4-6 weeks of rehearsal. This time we had three and a half weeks before tech. That’s short, especially considering how complicated this show is and how demanding it is of the actors. And yet … ready or not, the curtain goes up on opening night!
I’m happy to report that the show ran smoothly. There were a couple of technical glitches associated with our crappy sound system, but the cast and crew handled everything like pros. Watching the run last night, I was reminded how very lucky I am to know and work with such dedicated and passionate people! These kids stepped it up in the best of ways.
The World of the Play: ’50s Fashion
No matter what type of play you are producing, you need to evoke the time, place, and mood so that the audience will be seamlessly transported from the “real” world into the world onstage. The world of After the Fall was an interesting one to evoke because we were essentially communicating a fictionalized American history through the eyes of a less-than-reliably narrator. “Maggie,” “Quentin,” “Mickey,” “Louise,” and “Holga” were all based on real people and the stories of Marylin, Arthur, Elia, Mary, and Inge were going to come through in some respect or another.
When asked by the local paper what it was like to portray a historical character, Joseph replied: “I was very hesitant to put too much Arthur Miller into Quentin. It’s a character in a play. They are separate.” He is right, as far as an actor’s perspective is concerned - there were certainly pieces of fiction woven into the facts of the play. At the same time, we can’t ignore that these are Miller’s words and (more or less) his experiences.
In that regard, George worked to create a space that would show the jumbled mess of memories, weaving together a variety of real places in the same visual plane. All these memories are constantly with Quentin no matter what he is actually thinking about at the time.
As far as the costuming was concerned, this was a largely pulled show. Barbara worked from historical research on the periods to find effective pieces for each character.
Historical Marilyn and Arthur with Alycia and Joseph in costume.
We ended up using a lot of vintage in this show. Lucky for us, Alycia is extremely petite and had no problem fitting into vintage 1950s clothes with few alterations. Clothes evoke time and place. They change the way people move. It impacts the entire pace of the show (in a good way).
Vintage 1950s patterns.
I love the fashion of this period. It’s all in the details and there is such a range to pull from. Slim, fitted skirts and dresses were just as popular as the more full circle skirts. It give a designer wonderful freedom to find really appropriate pieces for each character.
Melissa Cozzi as Felice in a full-skirted blue polka dot dress.
Felice, for example, had to possess a playful and youthful energy. The character was fun and a little be goofy. Barb found this fantastic vintage dress for Melissa - worn with a nice fluffy crinoline, Felice was a light breeze at the beginning of an extremely heavy show.
Fitted sweater-dresses galore!
The Elsie and Louise characters demanded an entirely different type of energy. Sometime fitted and long-lined seemed more appropriate. Both Bryanna and Anna are absolutely gorgeous actresses, very tall with the proportions of models of that era.
Bryanna Rainwater as Elsie and Anna Mahaffey as Louise.
Tall and slim, they both looked as if they had stepped straight out of that period. At one point Anna had referred to one of her sweater-dresses as “grandma fashion.” Well, as far as I’m concerned, that’s one fashionable grandma.
Me in my opening night dress - my own contribution to the vintage 1950s look of the show.
Not to continue to gloat (and I know I’ve mentioned this before) but I love, love, LOVE my job! I love getting to teach, I love that I spend my life and energy teaching people about a subject I’m passionate about, and I love that I get to exercise my own creativity and practice the art of theatre. One of the extra perks about my job is celebrating opening night! It usually involves nachos and martinis. And it always requires getting at least a little bit dressed up. I bought this dress months ago, figuring it would be the perfect nod to the 1950s style in the play. It was a wonderful night out with my sweetie and my dear friend, Andrew.
Life is beautiful … I’m so proud of the cast and crew and so grateful for another process that has challenged me to work harder and (hopefully) grow as an artist.