Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
This is our 5th year in a row to make it to Kilgore. This is hands down our favorite summer vacation and we look forward to it every year. I made our reservations extra early this year, so we got to stay at our favorite hotel, The Holiday Inn and Suites in Kilgore. This year the hotel gave us a discount for going to TSF, and Downtown D'Lites Cafe gave us a discount on our food for being Guild Members. We're still the only Guild Members from Waco.
The Design/Tech Staff
This year there was only costume designer for the four mainstage shows, every other year that we've been coming, there have been two. They brought back Angelina Herin again this year. She designed for them last year and the year before.
I was disappointed to find that the costumes weren't labeled this year and there was only one set model, the children's show The Girl Who Cried Throgmonster, on display. I asked why there were no set models of any of the mainstage shows on display this year and was told that because Othello and Born Yesterday had such immense sets that the scenic designer, Jason Jamerson, didn't build any set models in order to concentrate more of his effort on those two enormous builds.
Into The Woods
Directed and Choreographed by Daniel Haley
Costumes Designed by Angelina Herin
Scenery Designed by Jason Jamerson
Lighting Designed by Alice Trent
Wig Master Byron Batista
I'd seen Into the Woods before, back when I lived in El Paso, before I was a parent. Act I is great and then Act II is a downer. No one is happy with the wish that came true. The characters all learn lessons the hard way, just like in real life. On the surface it's an escapist fantasy that turns out to be a lesson in real life. The characters are all flawed and they all quickly turn to blaming each other for the mess they are in rather than working together to find a solution or even admitting their part in creating the mess. Everyone is in pain, everyone is punished. I thought that I might feel differently after I became a parent, but no, Act II is more of a downer now that I've experienced loss. Loss of a parent, loss of a child, either through estrangement or death, or even the hell that is hormones, puberty, and the search for independence, is real and visceral to me now and only seemed to make my experience of Act II worse than it was before when I was a seemingly carefree twenty-something. The play brings up many themes like "be careful what you wish for" because you might get it and when you do it probably won't be what you thought. The theme of "Children listen" to what you do, not what you say, so model behaviors that you want to teach them. Also, children are smart enough to notice when what you say and what you do do not match, so don't do anything that you don't want "printed on the cover of the New York Times" to steal a quote from Born Yesterday. The theme of "do the ends justify the means?" is answered with no, they don't, not if you hurt other people in the process.
In terms of the costume design, it looks just the way any fairy tale should. It's a mix of periods with lots of bright colors, textures, and patterns. There's a clear difference between the classes with the Royal Family in more expensive fabrics, bigger wigs, brighter colors, and the poor peasants in more homespun garments and even bare feet. I was very impressed with the Witch's quick change from old ugly hag, into young and beautiful sorceress. My one critique is that I felt her Act II costume looked like it had been borrowed from Lady Macbeth's "out damn spot" scene. I wanted her gown to be more colorful and less "I've drowned in the river because Hamlet rejected me." I was so sure this was a Lady Macbeth gown that my husband looked up Macbeth on the TSF page and found that although Meaghan Simpson did play Lady Macbeth back in 2014, it was neither the same costume nor the same wig. Regardless, her performance was great as the Witch. I was especially fond of the Stepmother and Stepsister's costumes and wigs. The stepmother was played by a man, Evan Hart, and at first we thought it was Matt Simpson, only at intermission did we discover our mistake. Another favorite was Little Red Riding Hood's costume. Her red cape was made not with just any old hood, but a medieval liripipe that was stuffed and then curled up at the end. You can't see it from the front view, but in the profile picture with the wolf it's quite visible although not as curly as it was when we saw it. The rendering for Rapunzel's gown is clearly inspired by Daenerys Targaryen's costume from the second season of Game of Thrones, but this gown did not materialize in the show. I felt that the dark blue gown Rapunzel ended up in (which was far less spectacular) was something that was pulled and not built and that decision was probably based on the lack of time or money.
Costume Renderings by Angelina Herin.
All photography by TSF.
As You Like IT
Directed by Matthew Simpson
Choreographed by Daniel Haley
Costumes Designed by Angelina Herin
Scenery Designed by Jason Jamerson
Lighting Designed by Alice Trent
Sound Designed by Richard L. Sprecker
Wig Master Byron Batista
I had read As You Like It in college at least once but had never worked on a production of it before. This production had a very similar feel to Twelfth Night from their 2015 season. The scenery featured a raised platform with steps leading down from the center that was made to look like a veranda during the court scenes with columns and railings. You could see the trees in the background with a netting of fall colored leaves. Once the action moves to the Forest of Arden, the veranda elements were struck leaving just the platform and steps. There was lots of live music in the show with the musicians singing and playing onstage. My only complaint about the music (or possibly the mics) is that the washboard was entirely too loud and I couldn't hear the singer over the washboard.
The show was set in the crinoline period, judging by the ladies' court costumes. Celia was in pink with a gold diagonal stripe running through the fabric, and longer sleeves. Celia's costume was more elaborate than Rosalind's was, as the poor relation living off her Uncle's generosity. Rosalind's court costume was blue but done up in a plain fabric with a tacked on white ruffle and matching center front panel in the bodice, like it was a hand-me-down from Celia that they'd had to add fabric to so that it would fit her.
Rick Higgenbotham played both Duke Frederick and Duke Senior, the former with a beard and the latter without. You'll notice in the photos that he's not wearing any facial hair for Duke Frederick. I'm imagining that the photos were taken at a dress rehearsal and the director and costume designer felt that Rick needed more than a change of coat to signify his changing of characters and the bad guy, Duke Frederick, got the facial hair tacked on at the last minute. Rick was wearing a white shirt, creme vest, and white pants with black boots as his base costume. Duke Frederick also wore a red cutaway tail coat, like a ringmaster, and carried a walking stick, while Duke Senior wore a light green frock coat with a straw hat. I was fretful for his dressers, he had to make so many quick changes, plus the facial hair. But he always came on in the right costume with the right facial hair. Touchstone wore a three piece suit of purple coat and pants with a brocade vest, which felt very similar to the costume he wore for his role in Love's Labour's Lost, as the girls' valet. No motley in this show. The rest of the men at court were dressed in a similar fashion. Orlando was dressed much more poorly than his brother Oliver, in brown pants, shoes, leather suspenders, blue faded shirt, white undershirt.
Once the action moves to the forest, those characters were dressed less formally, in just pants and vests, no jackets, from their rough living. Celia changes her pink and gold gown for a much subtler dress of pale green calico, but with the same amount of rich detail like pleating around the neckline and ruffles on the sleeves. Rosalind's Ganymede costume consisted of creme pants, white shirt, silver brocade vest, white frock coat, tall buff boots, and straw hat. Phoebe was in an orange and brown plaid V-necked cotton dress worn over a tan blouse with a brown leather belt and brown buttons. The only other female character, Audrey, was dressed even more plainly than Phoebe, in a greyish plaid dress unbuttoned over a very low cut white blouse and her apron on sideways. The sleeves were very large and she wore them with the cuffs rolled way up. The costume was a bit large and saggy for her, making her seem even more simple-minded.
Costume Renderings by Angelina Herin.
All photography by TSF.
As YOu Like It Panel
Our favorite part of the festival, besides watching the plays, is being able to attend the panels the morning after the play. This year our trip was planned so that we could see the As You Like It panel. The director, Matt Simpson, led the panel. The panelists were Lucas Iverson who played Orlando, Lea DeMarchi who played Rosalind, Rick Higginbotham who played both Duke Senior and Duke Fredrick, and the Stage Manager, Darielle Shandler Matt began by asking questions and letting each panelist answer them to start off our discussion.
The first question was, "Have you done this play before?" None of the actors had ever done it before being cast in this production and in fact it was Lea's first ever Shakespearean comedy. Matt had been in numerous previous productions, as had his wife Meaghan, so between the two of them they'd played most of the roles. I feel that that's a great boon for a director, to be very familiar with the play.
"What research or preparation did you do for your role?" Rick never watches another production when he's preparing for a role. He explained that he's too imitative as an actor and if he watches someone else performing his role he'll start imitating that actor and won't be able to stop himself, a thing he figured out while still in college, when he used to listen to recordings of great actors performing famous speeches and had a teacher tell him at an audition that he'd done a great Olivier, for example, but now please do it like yourself. Instead of watching productions, he will look up photos of productions to see costumes and hair and makeup ideas to get a feel for how the character might look. Lucas says he's a huge "thief" and will watch all the productions he can get his hands on. He watched the RSC production twice before he came to Kilgore and wished he'd taken more notes during his study abroad course in London where he got to study with an actor who played Orlando and did a scene for the class with Rosalind. Lucas likes to try bits of others' performances in rehearsal to see which of those things fits his interpretation of the character. Rosalind makes what she calls a "mental scrapbook" by listening to others' performances like Vanessa Redgrave's as Rosalind where she's tricking Orlando in the forest. She never watches the entire production, just scenes. Matthew makes a huge effort to do an amazing amount of research before he begins work on a show. He watches every production he can get his hands on, pictures, recordings, he'll even search out director's notes in the library. He loves to get overwhelmed with research before he starts. This is also my approach to a show.
In terms of choosing the 1840's as the setting for the play, Matt said that ecause much of the action is set in the Forest of Arden, he began thinking of Robin Hood, but then quickly moved beyond that setting. Matt prefers to update Shakespeare's comedies by moving them forward in time. He feels this makes them easier to relate to: falling in love, being betrayed by your family, running away from home. Matt stated that he was heavily influenced by O Brother, Where Art There?, as well as the Hatfield/McCoy feud, 12 Years a Slave, and the Civil War in general. He felt that Rosalind had a lot in common with Scarlet O'Hara in terms of being cast out of a position of wealth and power and into being dirt poor and having to take control of your situation in a way you never did before. Matt chose to set the play on a Southern plantation in the 1840's. A question that the production team had was whether or not to include Civil War uniforms. Although there are many Shakespearean plays where men in uniform appear, i.e. Much Ado About Nothing, there were no textual references to war, soldiers, or uniforms of any kind, so they avoided using those visual references.
There is so much music in Shakespeare, in fact this play has the most music. Matt wanted to have live music as much as possible, and because of O Brother, Where Art There? they wanted guitar, banjo, washboard, and harmonica. The sound designer, Richard L. Sprecker, composed all the music in AYLI and Othello. The budget for the show was $13,000, they spent $10,000 on costumes, and scenery and sound less than $5,000. 70% of the show was pulled from stock pieces. They do very little renting because they see it as a waste of money. I wholeheartedly agree.
The trees were built on wooden frames and then wrapped in burlap, stapled, and painted. The designer used the same trees for both Into the Woods and AYLI, they were just placed onstage in a different configuration. The multi colored leaves completely changed the palette. All the leaves were individually stapled to netting by the guild members as part of their volunteer work. The lighting made all the difference, between the spooky claustrophobic forest of Into the Woods and the bright, open, airy, and colorful Forest of Arden.
Directed by Leda Hoffman
Costumes Designed by Angelina Herin
Scenery Designed by Jason Jamerson
Lighting Designed by Alice Trent
Wig Master Byron Batista
Born Yesterday was written in 1946 by Garson Kanin. I'd never even heard of this play before, and assumed it would be a musty old period piece. I was so wrong. At this point in our history, it's suddenly very timely and a sadly accurate snapshot of our government and its leaders. A corrupt junk dealer, Harry, brings his show business girlfriend Billie Dawn, to DC with him in order to buy a Senator to get some laws changed so he can profit off the WWII scrap metal left all over Europe. Billie's lack of an education makes her stick out among the DC socialites, so Harry hires journalist Paul, to educate her. Once Billie starts reading books and newspapers, she figures out what kind of person Harry is and she has a problem with how he does business. She and Paul conspire to foil his plans. Their scheme works, and it seems that she and Paul will get married, having developed a true fondness for each other over the course of the play.
Ostensibly this play is a comedy and we do laugh at Billie's ignorance. However, I was surprised to discover that Harry is a complete villain, no better or worse than Iago. He orders everyone around, he demeans his employees, he shoves people out of his way, he's gruff, basically he's an overgrown bully. He treats Billie like a object, like he owns her; he yells at her. Later we find out he's a con artist at best and a war-profiteer at worst. He slaps Billie around, forcing her to sign some business papers. In Act III, he threatens her life. He is a nasty piece of work and it's not funny. We are genuinely afraid for Billie's life even though Billie isn't. We're glad when Harry gets his comeuppance and Billie leaves him for Paul.
The set was designed to resemble an expensive hotel suite, lavishly decorated in the Rococo style. We are told that Harry wanted only the best and this suite is costing him $235.00 a week. In comparison we are told that the maid who cleans it only makes $18.00 a week, whereas the Senator he's trying to buy makes $200.00 a week. The living area had white doors and crown molding, picture rail molding, chair molding, and baseboards all with gold trim and filigree, wood inlay floor inside a marble floor, with an Oriental rug underneath the lovely gold Queen Anne settee and matching chair, marble topped end tables and fireplace with brass screen and tools. There are gold sconces, gold door handles, gold picture frames, and green and gold draperies and even a gold telephone. The painting over the fireplace was Fragonard's "The Swing". Outside the window you could see a view of the dome of the Capitol building in the distance.
The costumes were typical 1940's clothes. Suits for the men, dresses for the ladies, nothing out of the ordinary. There were three acts, so everyone had at least three changes, Billie and Harry had three changes each in Act I alone. Although there's not a photo of it, Billie, played by Angie Atkinson (who also played Emilia in Othello), started off Act I in a gorgeous hot pink satin dress with matching shoes, white purse, gloves, and coat, and fancy pink hat trimmed in feathers and net. She immediately goes upstairs and changes into her dinner dress of a dark green satin for meeting the Senator and his wife. I found out later that the green dress had originally been made out of gold fabric because the furniture was supposed to have been blue. The gold dress was finished before the furniture had been purchased and because the scenic designer got such an amazing deal on the gold couch, that was the one that made it onstage. The minute she sat on the couch, she disappeared, so the gold dress was scratched and made up again in green. After the dinner party, Billie changes into her pale pink peignoir set for a late night game of gin rummy complete with marabou trimmed slippers. In Act II we saw her studying her books in a black blouse printed with yellow daisies with green piping trim, worn with green pants, a la Katherine Hepburn. She also wore horn-rimmed reading glasses. In Act III, she wore a smart blue suit. The ladies' wigs were perfectly styled and very elegant.
Harry, played by Walter Jacob (who also played Jacques in AYLI) had a lot of changes as well. In Act I he starts off in a two piece, subtle plaid, chocolate brown suit with a button down tan sweater vest and brown tie, then immediately changes into a double-breasted, dark charcoal grey pinstripe suit with a red tie and carnation. He changes into dark red silk pajamas and a striped brown robe with velvet collar, cuffs, and belt with leather slippers for the gin rummy game, that he continually loses. In Act II he wears tan trousers with a mauve suit coat, brown print tie, and brown shoes. It's an odd choice. In Act III, which is just a few hours later, he lost the mauve suit coat, taken off the tie, and exchanged it for the bathrobe and slippers. I took an immediate dislike to Harry's character, which made me admire Walter's acting even more. I imagine that he had a difficult time in rehearsals working up to being as nasty as the part required, especially after seeing him be sensitive Jacques the night before.
Paul, played by DJ Canaday (who also played the Baker in Into The Woods) is in some variation of a blue suit the entire show. In Act I, he wore blue/grey plaid slacks and a bright blue blazer with a brown tie with blue print. In Act II he wore his argyle brown and blue sweater vest with a more conservative blue suit. In Act III he's in a navy blue suit with yellow print tie.
Harry's lawyer, Ed Devery, played fabulously by Micah Gooding, wears the same brown slacks and lighter brown coat with a mustard yellow tie throughout the entire play almost like he never goes home to sleep or change. His costume gets more and more slapdash, wrinkled, and slept-in looking as the play goes on and he gets drunker and drunker. Rick Higgenbotham plays Senator Hedges and wears a grey three piece suit with a grey bowtie.
Mrs. Hedges, played by Lea Dimarchi who played Rosalind in AYLI, wears a lovely charcoal grey floral print dress with three quarter sleeves and a collar. Although Lea is half Rick's age, she carried off her part with the grace and dignity of Eleanor Roosevelt, even quoting her at one point. With her elegant wig having just the right amount of grey in it, I totally believed she was the right age to be an old senator's wife, when just the night before she'd played Rick's daughter.
There's a bevy of hotel employees/servants running through the show that no one seemed to get a photo of, all in their matching red and black, black and white, or grey uniforms: Two bellhops, a maid, a manicurist, a barber, a shoe-shine boy, and a waiter, all of varying degrees of fanciness.
Costume Renderings by Angelina Herin.
All photography by TSF.
Born Yesterday and Othello were the two biggest sets this year and Danny recommended that we stay to watch the changeover. Luckily TSF filmed it so you can see it as well. Thanks to Amber Goebel for doing that.
Directed by Donald Carrier
Costumes Designed by Angelina Herin
Scenery Designed by Jason Jamerson
Lighting Designed by Alice Trent
Sound Designed by Richard L. Sprecker
Wig Master Byron Batista
Never was there a story of more woe than that of Desdemona and her Othello.
The director, Donald Carrier, chose to set his production in the Italian Renaissance as Shakespeare intended. The scenery was grey Gothic stone buildings with archways and rose windows. The grey stone was dressed up with wrought iron railings on the balcony and wrought iron door handles. In the stage right corner the steps and walls were painted to resemble tile with geometric patterns. I noticed that the floor was spattered in several different colors of paint so that it would appear to be a different color under light. The light behind the rose windows made them glow a warm golden amber. There was a fog machine making the atmosphere a bit hazy. The sound design was amazing. Every time Iago would monologue about his evil plans, there would be the sound of eerie bells in a minor key, then just piano and drums, while a storm was beginning to brew and rage in the distance. At various times there were alarm bells, musicians playing a viol and a flute, and later, organ music. The sound designer, Richard L. Sprecker, did a magnificent job of manufacturing the dark and moody aural atmosphere of the play.
There was a prologue a la Romeo and Juliet where a masked singer sang about Jealousy, foreshadowing the plot. It seemed like it was in the script at the time, only later did I look up the text to find that Othello does not begin with a prologue, so whether it was written specifically for this production or was lines borrowed from within the play itself, it felt like it belonged there. As always the acting was magnificent. Cordell Cole played Othello to Tim Sailor's Iago. They were the only two men in the company not forced to wear inappropriately frizzy and very unnecessary wigs. Othello was published in 1604 and by that point men had given up their long hair due to the lace ruffs that were in fashion at the time. If any false hair was going to be onstage it should have been on their faces and not their heads. Most men in this period had facial hair that came to be known as the Van Dyke, named after the Flemish portrait painter of the same name. A Van Dyke consisted of a moustache and goatee with the cheeks shaved. The men in Othello all looked like they'd stepped out of an 1980's hair band video. That is partly why I couldn't take any of them seriously except Othello and Iago. And even then Othello needed some more facial hair to help him look less baby-faced and more manly. Or conversely, if everyone else had had Van Dykes, and Othello didn't, that would have been OK too. Of all the characters to not have any facial hair at all, Iago definitely needed some to make him look more wicked. But that's just my opinion and doesn't diminish the success of this production. Perhaps because I came of age in the 1980's, that's all I could see.
The women wore the typical Tudor high-waisted gowns of sumptuous silks and satins, while the men paraded around in Venetians (fitted breeches that ended below the knee) or slops (very loose breeches that ended below the knee), and doublets. The soldiers' Venetians had colored trim sewn to them, in alternating red and gold on the bottom half, and either red, blue, or gold trim on the top half. I was very confused by this. My first instinct was that the vertical placement of the trim was meant to fake panes and my second instinct was the varying colors indicated rank. Either way, it was a nice addition to the plain black Venetians, but the blue trim was very distracting on Cassio as it was WAY too bright; when he was on stage it made me look at his crotch rather than his face. Plus it bothered me that it was a clear attempt to make all the black pants look like part of a uniform, which being all black they were doing just find by themselves, yet none of their doublets matched. If the blue stripe was supposed to tell me that Cassio was the Lieutenant and the red stripe that Iago was an Ensign, then maybe Cassio should have had a blue doublet and Iago a red one, and all the other nameless, rankless soldiers should have been gold. Instead each man had a different colored doublet: Cassio's was black, Iago's grey, nameless faceless soldiers wore various shades of brown, red, or no doublet at all.
Othello also wore black pants like his men but were devoid of any colored trim whatsoever. With his black Venetians he wore a lavender kimono over a purple shirt with silver trim on the neckline, all held together with a blue sash around his waist. It looks way more regal in the rendering than it did under the lights. There was no ornate gold trim at neck and sleeves, as indicated in the rendering, the kimono hung too lightly on him and should have been made from heavier fabric. He puts a black leather breastplate and bracers on over this costume to get ready to go to war, but then takes them off when the threat passes. He eventually takes off the sash and the kimono, strangling Desdemona in just his lavender shirt which gets completely washed out under the lights. Cordell Cole completely out-performed his costume in this role, which was disappointing for me, especially after I saw the rendering and realized what Angelina Herin had intended it to look like. I'm not sure what the disconnect was there but it was unfortunate.
There are only three women in this play--the men get most of the stage time. Both Desdemona and Emilia had two courtly gowns, with Desdemona wearing her white shift that she gets strangled in, underneath the other gowns as was normal practice then. Bianca only gets one gown that she wears in both her scenes. Desdemona's first gown was a brown, creme, and gold striped satin gown with the seams making chevrons at the center front of the bodice and on the short sleeves. Her shift covers all her cleavage coming up quite high on her chest. The gown she is pictured in on the rendering below may have been designed for her but was worn by Emilia instead in the same scene where Desdemona is in brown. Emilia's shift only barely conceals her cleavage. I don't understand why Emilia, the Ensign's wife and servant of Desdemona wore a much more colorful, elegant, and costly looking gown than her mistress, the General's wife. Why was this beautiful sumptuous blue and gold creation designed for Desdemona and then made up for Emilia when Emilia should have been the one in brown without all the gold trim? And to add insult to injury, Emilia wore a headdress through the entire play, like her own little crown. If you were watching the show with the sound off you would believe that Emilia was Desdemona and vice versa. It's a mystery. It was so distracting I almost couldn't concentrate on what they were saying...almost. Fortunately (for me) when they changed into their second costumes, Emilia was in a cheaper, plainer, browner fabric that looked very similar to what Desdemona had been wearing in the beginning, but stilll with a matching headdress, while Desdemona changed into a creme satin gown with no shift underneath and a cleavage revealing square neckline. At least the colors and textures were correct for the characters' social status this time. For Desdemona's final change, she appears in another shift, this time one that is made up in the filmiest cotton gauze with an overabundance of gold embroidery and beadwork around the neckline and the cuffs, not practical for sleeping in, I would think all those beads would make for a lumpy, restless night a la Princess and the Pea. But the weirdest costume of all is Bianca's. The character whose only function in the play is to be Cassio's whore that wants more out of their relationship, wears a virginal, white, frothy confection with double puffed sleeves and three tiers of ruffled skirt with a pink satin robe thrown over the whole thing. She looks more than anything like a child playing dress up in her mother's nighty. This effect was perhaps more enhanced because the actress playing her was significantly shorter than everyone else in the play.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed the production but was left confounded by the costumes.
Costume Renderings by Angelina Herin.
All photography by TSF.
The Kilgore Rangerette Museum
Ever since we've been coming to TSF, I've wanted to see the Rangerette Museum. A friend of mine from high school made the team back in 1986. She was sort of famous in our hometown because of that. So I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the team. The website has always proclaimed that they are open on Wednesday through Friday 10 am till 3 pm. The first year we didn't get there till Saturday, so we missed it. The next year I was smart and we got there on Friday at lunch so that we could see the museum before the matinee started. Sadly, the neon sign was off and no one was home. Every year since then I kept going by there at different times on Friday to visit it and it's NEVER been open. This year, finally, we drove by and the neon OPEN sign was ON! There were people walking in the door. I figured it was my lucky day and we immediately pulled over and parked so we could go in. As it turned out, the only reason it was open was because they were having a summer orientation for the brand new Rangerettes and their parents. We had followed in a girl and her family just like we were related to them and the staff let us go right on in. I took some photos, checked out the display, and we ducked out before anyone was the wiser.
From the website:
KICKIN' SINCE 1940
"In 1939, Kilgore College Dean, Dr. B.E. Masters, decided that the college needed an organization that would attract young women to the college and keep people in their seats during football game halftimes. His goal of equalizing the male/female student ratio had a secondary benefit - the folks would stay in the stands during halftime instead of sipping improper beverages under them. Dr. Masters brought Miss Gussie Nell Davis to Kilgore College to create something special. Her creation and gift to the world were the Kilgore College Rangerettes! The first group of its kind in the world, the Rangerettes brought "show business" to the football gridiron. Miss Davis' team took to the field during the 1940 football season, pioneering the field of dancing drill teams now seen across the nation. Miss Davis retired in 1979, and passed away on December 21, 1993."
If you haven't heard of the world-famous Kilgore Rangerettes, here's a National Geographic article that will get you up to speed.
Here's a video of their last home game half-time performance.
There was a documentary made in 1972 called Beauty Knows No Pain of the Kilgore Rangerettes. I saw this documentary on TV in the 1980's. I wish someone would put it up on You Tube, but you can see it at the museum. For the 75th Anniversary, Chuck Hale was asked to make another documentary, but instead he made a feature length film, called Sweethearts of the Gridiron, which you can also see at the museum. Here's a trailer.
Christian Dior's family had a fertilizer business before the war. His father wanted him to be a diplomat, but instead Christian went to art school in Paris and then opened his own gallery where he sold paintings by the likes of Picasso, Braque, Matisse, and Miro. During the Great Depression, his family lost the fertilizer business, Dior had to close his art gallery, and he was called up for military service when WW II started. After his two years of service, Dior became a designer for one of France's biggest fashion houses, Lucien Lelong. Unfortunately, Paris was still suffering under the Nazi occupation, and Dior had to design dresses for Nazi officer's wives as well as the wives of French collaborators. During this time his sister Catherine, was working with the French Resistance and had been captured and sent to a concentration camp where she remained until the end of the war.
Once the war ended, the fashion industry in Paris was ready to renew its status as the Fashion Center of the World. Dior struck out on his own because he wanted to put the war behind him and he especially did not want his new line to be associated with the Lelong House which had been forced to clothe Nazis. His first line Corolle (which means circlet of flower petals in English) was presented in 1947 and was both vehemently protested and wildly successful. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack 10 years later at the height of his career.
Before we go any further, let's back up a bit.
To understand why Dior's New Look was such a fashion revolution, and caused riots in the streets, you have to understand that it was a reaction to World War II and specifically, wartime clothes rationing. Europe and North America's economies had been co-opted to produce goods for the war effort, which lasted from 1939-1945. Clothes purchasing was strictly rationed just like food and all other goods. The clothing industry was desperate to meet the demand for uniforms and civilian clothing was in a severe shortage. Women went to work in factories to replace the men who went to the battlefield. Women wore pants for the first time, as part of their work uniform.
Coupons for clothes were given out and families were only allowed three coupons a month, yet a new dress cost eleven coupons in England, a pair of shoes cost five coupons, and a pair of stockings cost two coupons. Early on women had been forced to wear nylon stockings because the silk was being used for parachutes. Later, even that was taken away and women went bare-legged, sometimes using cosmetics to fake stockings, including drawing a line up the back of the leg to simulate the seam. As you can see, buying new clothes was almost impossible for most people and everyone was encouraged to "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without".
Most wartime weddings were quickly thrown together before the groom was shipped out, and together with clothes rationing, there was not enough time, money, or fabric available to make an extravagant dress. Most women got married in a dark suit. White was not worn because it was felt to be in bad taste. My maternal grandmother Charlotte, got married in a beige suit before her TAMU Army husband got shipped out. My paternal grandmother Mildred, got married in a brown suit, even though her husband was 4F and not going to war because of his asthma. Unfortunately, I don't have any wedding photos of either of my grandmothers.
My husband's grandmother Mary, got married on 11-17-1941, just three weeks before Pearl Harbor. Her husband was immediately called up and enlisted in the Army. Mary got married in a knee-length dress with 3/4 sleeves and a round embroidered neckline. Both the bodice and the skirt have a yoke and two pleats in the front.
This is an English couple: Hugh Verity and Audrey Stoke's 1941 wedding portrait. Like everything in this period, Audrey's clothing for her special day was austere. Women's clothes were boxy like men's uniforms. Dresses used very little fabric and there were no decorative details. Audrey's suit is blue to match Hugh's RAF uniform. The skirt is knee length and slim. The matching jacket has 3/4 sleeves, a high neckline and Peter Pan collar.
Now that we have the appropriate historical context, let's get back to Dior's 1947 Corelle line. This is a photograph of a model wearing Dior's famous Bar suit, which American fashion editor Carmel Snow, dubbed "The New Look" in Harper's Bazaar. It was only one of eighteen pieces in his Corolle Collection for Spring and Summer, but it's the one that changed fashion forever. The Bar suit is made up in white silk shantung for the jacket and black wool for the skirt. There is a total of 17 yards of fabric in this ensemble. The jacket and skirt had padding in the bust and hips to round out the silhouette of the skinny, war-starved Parisian woman's body. The jacket's peplum created a very nipped in waist especially in contrast to the very full skirt. Gone is the boxy skirt, replaced by an outrageous amount of fabric pleated down to a narrow waist. The skirt hem is much longer than previous fashions, going all the way down to the mid-calf. It was shown with accessories of a black hat, pearl stud earrings, black gloves, and black heels.
There were two reasons this dress caused rioting in the streets of Paris when it premiered. First, it used an incredible amount of fabric, 17 yards, which to the woman who was used to wartime rationing, seemed obscene and wasteful. Second, women who had gone to work and therefore worn the pants in their families, were angry that they had lost those jobs in favor of the men who had come back from war. Their skirt hemlines had gotten higher and higher over the course of the war, showing off their legs more and more. They saw the full skirts and mid-calf hemline as Dior telling them to cover up their legs again. They saw it as a lessening of the rights they had gained during war-time. So when this dress first appeared at a 1948 photoshoot that was held outside, crowds of women ripped it off the model's body and tore it to shreds. Regardless of the immediate push-back, American and European socialites, as well as the British royalty, were ready for the change and embraced it as being soft and feminine and a welcome change from wartime austerity.
I got a guidebook that had a map of the exhibit on the back page. Here it is, so you can follow along. The layout was in chronological order so that's the order I'll be going by as well. The entrance is marked by the red box and we followed the arrows through the exhibit, until we got back to the beginning. Blog Sections are labeled the same as on the map.
Revolutionary New Look
The dress on the bottom left is the Bar. Actually, it's not. It's a reproduction of the original that was made in 1987 for Dior's Fortieth Anniversary. The lighting in this room, as well as in the rest of the exhibit, made it difficult to get good photos. This is the only dress from the original Corolle line in the exhibit. The other seventeen pieces in this room were designed to be callbacks to this original line by other designers across the years up to the present day. As you can see all but two of the ensembles are black. I overheard many people wondering, "Why all the black?". Although there was nothing in the exhibit or in the guide book about it, my guess would be that many women were still in mourning over lost husbands, sons, brothers, and fathers. Although Paris had been saved, England was still rebuilding from the Blitzkrieg, as was much of Europe. Black was probably chosen as a practical color for that reason. Don't worry, there's more color coming soon.
Office of Dreams
This was the second room of the exhibit which documents Dior's process. The House of Dior still follows these steps today.
This is a caricature of Dior working at his desk.
These are sketches done by Dior himself and given to Madame Carre, head of the ateliers (workshop) where she would interpret the sketches by using fabric to make prototypes of each design, called toiles.
Dior in conference with Mdm. Carrere preparing the 1957 Spring Collection at the atelier.
These are toiles (or mock-ups). Toiles are half sized sample mannequins that are used to show designs before they are cut out and stitched together at full size. Each one of Dior's sketches was made up at half size in white cotton muslin and sent to him for approval before colors, fabrics, and trims were chosen. As she showed each toiles to Dior, Madame Carre would ask him, "Have I expressed you correctly?" Once each toile was approved, it was taken apart and used to create the full sized patterns for each garment. These particular toiles are from a much later period: 2007-2018.
Seamstresses in the Dior atelier c. 1950.
These are embroidery samples made by the atelier based on sketches by Dior.
The third room showcased dresses made in the first period of The House of Dior and encompasses not only Christian Dior's designs, 1947-57, but also his subsequent artistic directors:
Yves Saint Laurent, 1958-60,
Marc Bohan, 1961-89,
Gianfranco Ferre 1989-96.
From here on out I have tried to label the photos in the gallery with the relevant information from the guide book, but as will become much clearer later, the person in charge of numbering the dresses in the exhibit, didn't care much for order. So, because I was told upfront that everything was labeled and described in the guide book and all I had to do was appreciate the dresses, I didn't pay that much attention to which number belonged to what dress because I was sure that I could figure it out later. All I had to do was note one number in each room and the rest should surely follow suit. Well, they didn't. The numbering was all over the place. So I have done my best to correctly identify these gowns but gave it up for a bad job rather quickly after these first two sections. Sorry.
John Galliano 1997-2011
Raf Simons 2012-2015
Maria Grazia Chiuri 2016-present
Ladies in Dior
The numbering system for the Center Back display was posted on the wall as you left this area. Fortunately, the museum employee who was stationed in this area told us all to take a photo of the legend first and then go through the exhibit. IMO, the numbering system was unnecessarily arbitrary. Also, the display was way above our eye level, so none of these photos are really in focus because they were too far away from the back where you could see them, but once you got up close, you couldn't see the upper levels at all.
The photo below was taken from the back of the room.
These photos were taken from midway in the room and are still too small and out of focus.
From Paris to the World
As you can see the dresses were arranged in tiers going up three levels. My eye level was at the feet of the first level of dresses. The dresses were lit from underneath, so again, the photos are not great. At this point I'm not even trying to identify each gown or this blog would never get published.
From the guidebook:
"From hats and shoes to makeup and perfume, Christian Dior offered women a "total look". He expanded his business to an unprecedented level, licensing specialized companies to manufacture products under the fashion house's control. Dior wanted "a woman to be able to leave the boutique dressed [by Dior] from head to toe, even carrying a present for her husband in her hand.
A selection of lipsticks provided matching lip color for every dress. Shoes and jewelry were created in collaboration with the very best designers and artisans. The same spirit extended to Dior's packaging and display. These items all mirrored the house's iconic palette, dominated by pink, the color of youth and happiness, and red, the color of life, as exemplified by the show-stopping dresses known as "Trafalgars," made to astonish audiences halfway through a presentation. With his total look, Dior pioneered the globalization and branding that still characterize the world of fashion today."
Splendors of the 18th Century
After WWII it was very important to Dior to bring back France's splendor and he felt that the Rococo period's elegance was just the right thing to do that. He had He had his headquarters decorated in the Rococo style to match the building's facade. He went so far as to photograph his collections in the Palace of Versailles. His subsequent artistic directors have also hearkened back to this time for inspiration.
Fields of Flowers
Like Monet, Dior drew inspiration from gardening and believed that, "After women, flowers are the most divine creations". Also like Monet he spent a lot of time and money turning his personal gardens into wondrously fanciful places for his inspiration.
Sketches, Research, and Inspiration boards
Many of the rooms contained photos of the process of his creation as well as original sketches by the designers. I took photographs of everything I was allowed to so these are all from different eras, but I've put them together in this section for ease of categorization.
The Dior exhibit will only be at the DMA until September 1, 2019. You need to get there ASAP so you can see it. The tickets for all the rest of the dates went on sale July 15th, so the sooner you go online to buy yours the better chance you have to actually see it. Tickets are $20 for a weekday, and $25 for a weekend. There are discounts for Seniors, Military, and Students with valid ID.
Here are things you need to know before you go online to purchase tickets. If you want to go with friends, you can only purchase four tickets together at a time with one credit card. If I had wanted to take my family of 5, we would have had to go in two different time slots. Kids 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Kids 11 and under are free, as are DMA members. However, EVERYONE, EVEN DMA MEMBERS, EVEN CHILDREN 11 AND UNDER, EVERYONE! must still go online and reserve/buy tickets because they are timed entry tickets, which as we all know, is a pain in the butt and means long lines, but just get over that now if you really want to see this. Entrances are timed for every 15 minutes in groups of 30. As of this writing, there are still a few tickets left in most of the weekday time slots for next week, (July 23-28) but almost none for the weekend time slots. August still has 15-20 tickets left for most time slots every day.
So you're a teacher, like me, and you want to take your school group. You think you'll get a discount because you're with a school. HA! You are so wrong. You cannot take a big school group to this because those prices START at $2,000.00 for groups up to 20 people (unless your school has a lot of money they are willing to give you and if so, congratulations! I want to teach with you). I've thought a lot about this and your best bet to get a school group in is to get some other parents/teachers to help you out and buy groups of four tickets in consecutive time slots until all the students are taken care of. Now, that will only work as long as all your kiddos are older than 15 and don't need to be accompanied by an adult. Or you could put all your underage freshman/ sophomores individually in with your groups of three juniors/seniors and maybe the museum staff won't notice that one kid out of every four looks a bit on the young side. Otherwise you'll have to take more teachers/parents to accompany the underage kids. FYI, the day that I went, there were zero children in the exhibit. Most of the attendees were middle-aged women like myself. I didn't even notice any teenage girls with their moms. There were only a few likely looking college fashion students that were studiously documenting everything just like I was.
Now that you have the 411, congratulations!
Here's the link to buy your tickets!
Once you have your tickets, be prepared to arrive at the museum 15-30 minutes before your time slot begins to start queuing with the 26-29 other people in your group. DO NOT BE LATE! YOU WILL NOT GET IN! YOU WILL HAVE TO BUY ANOTHER TICKET FOR A LATER DAY/TIME. However, once you are in, you can spend as much time as you want in there. No one will hurry you along, except in the "Paris to the World/Ladies in Dior" room where they slow down the process even more by allowing only smaller family groups, couples, or individuals in, one tiny group at a time. I spent about 75 minutes in there, and that was mostly waiting for people to move out of the way so I could get a clear shot for the photograph I was desperately trying to take of every single item.
Photographs were allowed throughout the exhibit, except for in the "Legendary Photographs" Room, where you cannot take any photographs of the actual photographs. There are both warning signs posted as well as staff telling you as soon as you approach the room. Also, in the "From Paris to the World/Ladies in Dior" room the staff member will only allow one person per family group to take photos, so be prepared to fight for the right to be that person. I was alone, so this was not a problem for me.
The Dallas Museum of Art is fairly easy to find and has a lovely underground parking garage where your car will stay nice and cool, out of the summer sun. You can take an elevator up to the lobby entrance and save your knees. There are plenty of stairs inside if you choose to see the rest of the museum after your Dior experience. There are elevators too, but it's confusing and you might miss some collections entirely. For example, the Japanese Woodblock Print exhibit is hiding in a secret hallway that connects the staff library to the staff offices. We found it looking for bathrooms/water fountains. FYI, there are none down that hallway. And, we've been to the DMA at least once a year, and we still get turned around and can't find what we're looking for half the time. Also, the second floor was completely closed when we were there and elevators wouldn't even stop on it. Apparently they are renovating it. No word on when it is reopening.
But you're tired and hungry and need some food. Don't settle for expensive museum cafe food. Walk straight out of the museum, across the street and turn left. Right down the little hill in front of you is a great Mexican restaurant called El Fenix. You can see the sign from the entrance. Go eat there and either go home afterward, or go back to the museum refreshed and see the rest of the collection.
Today we were all excited to go see the Mayborn Museum exhibit "Be The Astronaut". After the amazing Titanic exhibit last summer we were super excited and didn't take any children just so that we could take as much time as we wanted without the constant, "I'm bored, when are we leaving?" We chose today because the Mayborn has for YEARS had a first Sunday is free program. So we got there only to find out that first Sundays are no longer free as of this summer. We paid $8.00 per ticket to see it anyway. When we got in, we quickly realized that whoever put this exhibit together left half of it at home, probably because it wouldn't all fit into the gallery space. There were a dozen or so computer simulations allowing you to either launch a rocket, land on the moon, or drive the Mars rover. There was supposed to be a rocket, a moon lander and a Mars rover vehicle in the exhibit according to all the signage around the gallery. The only "objects" to look at were some moon landing Lego sets and these two space suits.
The first one is the Apollo A7-LB Lunar Spacesuit which was used in Apollo 15, 16, and 17 missions in the early 1970's. Here's the wikipedia article where you can read more in depth details about the history of the suit and all its design features. Neil Armstrong described his suit a "tough, reliable, and almost cuddly".
The second suit is actually from the movie, Deep Impact, made in 1998. Gerry Griffin, the former director of the LBJ Space Center in Houston was a consultant on the film as well as former astronaut, David Walker. The actors in the suits were very uncomfortable during filming and, according to Jon Favreau, were "hung on racks" still in their suits and rolled outside to get some fresh air while on breaks.
As you can see the closer we came to the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo mission, the more things have been published on the space suits. CBS did a story on the seamstresses who made the Apollo suit that I will summarize here.
The Apollo 11 spacesuits had to be flexible, compact, and light-weight. International Latex, the company that manufactured Playtex bras and girdles, made a mock up, filmed an employee playing football in it, and won the government contract. The suits were made from 21 layers of very thin fabric and sewn to a "precise tolerance of 1/64" on what looks to be old heavy duty treadle machines. The goal was accuracy rather than speed. This is Lillie Elliott cutting out the patterns for the Apollo suits. After a fiery explosion that killed three astronauts during testing, the suits were revamped to remove anything that might burn.
Here is the entire video segment, for your enjoyment. It includes much more information such as interviews with the NASA engineers, as well as the last man to walk on the moon, Jack Schmitt.
Here is a Wall Street Journal article on Neil Armstrong's moon suit detailing the conservation efforts made to get it back on public display by July 16 for the 50th anniversary of the launch, which I will summarize for you here.
After the moon landing, NASA decontaminated the suit and sent it out on a tour of the US. Afterwards it was put on display at the Air and Space Museum for 30+ years. It was removed from the display in 2006 for conservation when it started showing signs of deterioration. The rubber layer in the interior of the suit had become brittle and was flaking, the zippers had begun to rust, and the suit was off-gassing vapors. The suit had also collected quite the amount of dust just from the thousands of visitors to pass by every day.
Lisa Young and her team of conservators at the Smithsonian interviewed the seamstresses who originally made the suit to learn more about how it was made, in order to help conserve it. Obviously with such a one of a kind object, they couldn't take it apart to clean and/or replace worn out components. They did however x-ray the suit as well as use a CT scanner on it. Spectrometric analysis showed that some of the dust on the suit was actually moon dust, so that was left alone. The suit now has a be-spoke mannequin and a new display case with filtered air ventilation system to keep the moon dust in and the public's dust out, as well as to remove the off-gassing vapors which would further deteriorate the suit if left behind.
Mary Robinette Kowal's NY Times article "To Make it to the Moon, Women Have to Escape Earth's Gender Bias", was published on July 17, 2019 and immediately caused quite the stir on Twitter. But before I can tell you about the Twitter controversy which I'm saving for the end, I'm going to give you some more information on the history of the Mercury 13 program, that Kowal only summarizes for you in her article. You should really read her whole article, but if you've already read your quota of free NYT articles for the month and don't already have a subscription, never fear, I will summarize it for you later. Back to The Mercury 13.
In the 1950's before anyone had gone to space, Dr. Randolph Lovelace discovered that women might be better suited for space travel than men. Women were "smaller, which would reduce the weight of payloads. They had better cardiovascular health and lower oxygen consumption. And they tolerated higher G-forces and outperformed men on isolation and stress tests." So, he found some likely female candidates and put them through the same rigorous testing as the male candidates for the Mercury program and thus the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLAT) program was born. Thirteen women passed the tests and one of them, Jerrie Cobb, ranked in the top 2% of all astronaut candidates of both genders. However, none of the Mercury 13, as they came to be known years later, ever made it to space. The program was cancelled despite the women lobbying Congress to fight the ruling. In 1995, all of the eleven surviving women were invited to Cape Canaveral to attend the launch of the Discovery shuttle, but only seven of them could make it due to health reasons. The first ever group photo of them was shot there. The other six women were Jane Hart, Janet Dietrich, Marion Dietrich, Irene Leverton, Rhea Woltman, and Janey Briggs.
Currently, 537 men have been in space, but only 61 women have made the same journey. The reason the numbers are so unequal is nothing less than gender bias, which Kowal's article does a magnificent job of detailing, and now I will summarize that for you as well.
Originally, the biggest reason that women were excluded was that all candidates had to be a pilot with a minimum of 1,500 hours flying time AND that had graduated from a certified test pilot school. The only test pilot schools were military and did not accept female students until 1976. Of course there were many women in our history who were pilots and had more than enough hours of flying time. The WASPS were a whole division of women who were test pilots during WWII. However, none of them had the official piece of paper. This is the reason that the Mercury 13 program was devised in the first place, to get around that requirement.
In 1979, just three short years after women were finally admitted to test pilot schools, these were the next group of females who were trained for space flight. Every single one of them made it to space eventually. Sally Ride was the first American woman in space in 1983 aboard the Challenger space shuttle. In 1986, Judith Resnick was the second American women in space for a brief 73 seconds when the Challenger exploded on takeoff, killing everyone aboard. Sullivan and Fisher both went into space in 1984, Seddon went a year later in 1985, and last but not least, Shannon Lucid finally made it there in 1996 going aboard the Mir space station.
Even so, women in the military were specifically banned from combat duty and not allowed to fly in combat missions until that ban was lifted in 2013. Case in point, Marine Corps Capt. Katie Higgins became the very first female Blue Angel pilot in 2014. But back to the astronauts.
Due to the NASA gender bias that preferred male astronauts, all things space-related were then designed and engineered for men's bodies from the L and XL sizes of the space suits, the space between ladder rungs, to the hand tools sized for a larger grip. The cooling system in the suits were designed for men's sweat patterns and optimized for men's average body temperature. Once peeing in space became a concern, the suits and toilets were designed to fit men's external genitalia. And despite all this, 61 women compensated for these biases and went to space anyway.
Now back to the Twitter controversy. FYI, Mary Robinette Kowal is a Nebula and Hugo-award winning SF author. I'm just going to quote the relevant parts from a rather long and still evolving thread on Kowal's Twitter Feed:
"Let's talk about peeing in space. Several people, in response to my NY Times essay, have said that women couldn't go into space because we lacked the technology for them to pee in space. When the Mercury program was proposed, doctors were worried that people would not be able to urinate or even swallow without the aid of gravity. And yet, they still made plans to send a man into space. When Alan Shepherd became the first American man to go into space, it was scheduled to be a fifteen-minute mission. Up. Hello space! Back down. They made no plans for peeing. Launchpad delays meant that Shepherd hit a point where he needed to go. Badly. He asked Mission Control for permission to go in his suit. After consultation with flight surgeons & suit technicians, they gave him permission to do so. So he wet himself & still went into space. Later, they solved this problem by developing a sheath, that looked much like a condom. It worked great in testing, but when the actual astronauts used it, the sheath kept blowing off and leaving them with pee in their suits. Was this about extended time in the spacesuit? [No.] The sheaths came in small, medium, and large. It turns out, the men were all saying that they needed a Large sheath. They did not. Subsequently, the sheaths were called "Extra-large," "Immense," and "Unbelievable." They had to tape a bag to their ass to poop. That worked well for Gemini and Mercury. And by well, I mean there was still urine in the capsule and it stank of feces. Apollo needed a different solution. Alas, they still had to poop into a bag, but for peeing, they could slip on a condom attached to a valve, turn the valve and have their urine sucked into the vacuum of space. If you timed it right. Open the valve a fraction too late, and urine escaped to float around the cabin. Open it too early and the vacuum of space reached through the valve to grab your manhood. Apparently, the venting of pee into space is very pretty. It catches the sunlight and sparkles. For the spacewalks, the Apollo astronauts were back to condoms that collected the pee in a bag in the suit. Buzz Aldrin was the second man on the moon, but the first to pee there. During Apollo 13, everyone who has seen the movie knows that Fred Haise got sick. Do you know why, though? After the accident, they couldn't use the regular vent, because it needed to be heated to keep the pee from freezing. The alternate system caused droplets to float around the ship. Mission Control told them to stop dumping pee. It wasn't meant to be a permanent ban, but the crew didn't understand that. So they were stashing pee in every bag or container possible. The fastest option was to store it in the collection bags they wore in their suits. Haise kept his on for hours and hours, basically bathing in pee. He got a UTI and then a kidney infection.
Finally, a decade later, NASA decides to send women into space. NOW they have a reason to come up with how to handle peeing in space if you don't have a penis. To launch and for a spacewalk, they developed the MAG Maximum Absorbency Garment. It's a diaper. The men switched over to using those because it was more comfortable and less prone to leave pee floating around the cabin than the condom sheath. They also developed a zero-G toilet so that astronauts no longer had to tape a bag to their ass....All of which is to say that the reason women didn't go into space had nothing to do with lacking the technology to pee. We didn't have the technology for men to pee in space when they started either. And some days, the best solution is still a diaper or a bag taped to the ass.
What about periods in space? - According to women who have been there, "It's just like a period on Earth." It turns out menstrual blood moves via a wicking action. Gravity can speed that up, but is unnecessary. Also, tampons exist. Fun fact: When Sally Ride was preparing to go into space, NASA engineers asked her if 100 tampons would be the right number for a week. She said, "No. That would not be the right number." They cut it back to 50."
Congratulations! Now you know more than you probably ever wish you did about bodily functions in space. If you want to read about farting, erections, or vomiting in space, you can go look up her Twitter page yourself.
A brief History
Captain Marvel was created by Fawcett Comics in 1939, the year after Superman, and holds the distinction of being the first superhero character to be made into a film-- The Adventures of Captain Marvel, released in 1940. Captain Marvel was Fawcett's biggest moneymaker and in fact was the nation's most popular superhero and the highest circulated comic book. This ruffled a lot of feathers over at DC (Superman's publisher). In a desperate attempt to stop the release of the movie as well as the title, DC sued the publishers on the grounds of copyright violation citing that Captain Marvel was too similar to Superman. To make the "longest legal battle in comic book history" story short, over the course of the next twelve years DC sued Fawcett, lost, appealed, and then won their appeal. Fawcett ceased and desisted making Captain Marvel comics in 1953. Fawcett had to pay DC a large sum of money and subsequently folded. Captain Marvel remained out of print for the next fourteen years. In 1967, Marvel Comics trademarked the name Captain Marvel and started up a new series where he is a Kree alien. In the intervening time, DC had bought out the defunct Fawcett Comics and now owned both Superman and the character it had once said was a Superman infringement. DC owned the character, but not the name and that's why DC had to call their 1974 TV show Shazam!
DC's Captain Marvel: AKA Shazam!
Captain Marvel is the secret identity of teenager Billy Batson. When Billy says the magic word Shazam! he becomes an adult superhero who wears an costume that is clearly influenced by WWII soldier uniforms. The tunic top is asymmetrical with a button on the right shoulder. The sleeves have shoulder pads and are loosely fitted like a men's suit jacket. The white cape has gold military braid trim down the front and at the hem. His gold belt and bracers, yellow lightning bolt on the chest, boots complete his outfit. CC Beck who drew Captain Marvel based his look on Fred MacMurray who was the #1 box office star at the time.
By 1941, Fawcett had given Captain Marvel some friends: Mary Marvel, Billy's twin sister, and Captain Marvel Jr., Billy's friend Freddy who stayed a teenager when he transformed. Mary Marvel's look was based on Judy Garland, and Junior, believe it or not, inspired Elvis Presley's look as he was a big fan of the character and designed his later stage costumes with capes based on Junior's supersuit.
At this point, Captain Marvel has done away with the militaristic asymmetrical tunic bib, shoulder pads, and loose sleeves that he was in before. Instead, his supersuit is much more similar to Superman's unitard now, sleek and aerodynamic. He still has the white cape, but the gold braid frogs are gone, only the gold trim on the hem remains. Lastly, the lightning bolt has gotten much wider. Mary wears the girl version of the Marvel supersuit, short puff sleeves and a full skirt. Junior wears the same suit as Marvel, just in blue instead of red with a red cape instead of white.
Then it just got ridiculous. Fawcett added three boys who went by the names of Tall Billy, Fat Billy and Hill Billy. There was a rabbit called Hoppy the Marvel Bunny, and an old man called Uncle Dudley. They all wore the same suit as Captain Marvel.
Once the lawsuit was finally settled and DC owned the character, they rebooted the series calling it Shazam! with just Mary and Junior. Mary's neckline is a little lower and her skirt hem is a lot higher, but basically they are in the same costumes from 1941.
When DC published Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985, the Marvel family got a reboot. They cut out both Mary and Junior, just leaving Captain Marvel.
Later, in 2012 Geoff Johns and Gary Frank gave Captain Marvel a new family for the New 52, bringing back Mary and Freddy, and adding Darla Dudley, Pedro Pena, and Eugene Choi, Billy's adopted siblings. Finally we get more colors. Darla is in purple, Pedro is in green, and Eugene is in grey. Billy is still in blue, but with a white cape. Mary is still in red, although she's no longer Billy's twin sister. Mary still has short sleeves, Darla has no sleeves. Notice how all the lightning bolts are glowing and seem to be emanating electricity.
Shazam! on screen
This is the original 1941 film, The Adventures of Captain Marvel. The actor was Tom Tyler. There was no designer listed on its IMDB page. This first iteration of the Captain Marvel supersuit was an exact copy of the original Golden Age comic: The militaristic asymetrical tunic bib that buttoned on the right shoulder, the skinny lightning bolt logo high on the chest, and the sleeves loosely fitted with shoulder pads like a men's suit jacket of the period. The cape had the gold braided frogs down the front and the gold ribbon on the hem.
The Shazam! TV series was on between 1974-77. The
costume designer was Thalia Phillips and
the actor was Jackson Bostwick, although he was replaced in Season 2 with John Davey, after sustaining a stunt related injury. I watched this show every Saturday morning. In this version Billy was no longer a teenager (the actor Michael Gray, was 23 at the time). Billy worked for a radio station, WHIZ and was on a roving assignment with Mentor (a character loosely based on a combination of Uncle Dudley and the Wizard Shazam). Together they drove around in an RV while Billy got sent on missions by the Immortal Elders. At the end of each episode, Captain Marvel would tell us kids what we were supposed to have learned from the episode.
The Secrets of Isis was a spin-off TV Show that ran on the same network for two seasons in 1975-76. Thalia Phillips did the costumes for Isis as well Shazam. Isis appeared on Shazam during Season 1 in 1974 and then got her own show the next year. Captain Marvel appeared as a guest star on Secrets of Isis in both seasons. John Davey played Captain Marvel in three episodes. The costume is the same one that Jackson Bostwick wore.
Legends of the Superheroes, 1978.
Costume Designed by Warden Neil.
The actor was Garrett Craig. This was a very cheaply made Hanna-Barbera made for TV special.
The current iteration of Shazam! came out in 2019 with costumes designed by Leah Butler. Zachary Levi was 6'3" and 180 lbs before he started training for the role. Although he did bulk up to 215 and trained with four different gurus, not all those abs were his. The suit did augment his body shape, they all do. However, for the doubters who can't get over how Chuck became Shazam!, here's the before and after photos.
The Hollywood Reporter stated that the costume budget alone was $10 million. The suit budget was between 600,000-$700,000 just for Zachary Levi and his stunt double's 10 suits. Based on the after photo of Zachary Levi's chest, my guess is that the underlayer had extra padding on the deltoids, lats, and pecs, to make his chest bigger and wider in order to make his waist seem smaller. Here's a photo of Zachary with his stunt double, Ryan Handley. Ryan had motion capture dots on his face so the CGI department could replace his face with Zachary's. Ryan also played the faceless Superman at the end of the movie.
Here's a Screen Rant interview with the costume designer Leah Butler where she revealed all the insider information on how the suit was made, what secrets the underlayer was hiding, and all the relevant design details, which I will summarize here.
The red fabric has a Greek key pattern printed into it. It's very difficult to see from far away, but the close up photo shows the texture that the pattern creates on the surface of the fabric, as well as the design lines that are also printed onto the fabric to accentuate Shazam's musculature. The lighting bolt and gauntlets light up and can be controlled for both temperature (color) and brightness.
The cape is made from a very light weight wool and has a Greek key pattern embroidered on the hem. The knee-length cape is actually much longer than it is in both the very short golden age comics, as well as the longer butt-length capes from the New 52 comics.
The cape screws into the underlayer with gold buttons so that it stays put during all the superhero-ing. A nice detail about the buttons is that they are embossed with tigers as a nod to Mr. Tawny, a talking tiger, who was Shazam's golden age friend.
Shazam has a foster family in this movie, so here's the whole gang-- Pedro, Mary, Billy, Freddy, Eugene, and Darla--child and adult versions.
The adult actors are: DJ Cotrona as Pedro, Michelle Borth as Mary, Adam Brody as Freddy, Ross Butler as Eugene, and Meagan Good as Darla. The Marvel family costumes were designed to look just like the New 52 comics. They are made the same way as Shazam's costume with the Greek key pattern printed on the fabric, the printed on seam lines emphasizing the musculature, the light-up lightning bolts and gauntlets, the gold belts and boots. It's easier to see the printed texture of the fabrics in the next few close up photos under natural light rather than the camera lighting used in the movie stills.
Pedro, DJ Cotrona, and his stunt double, Alex Albuster.
Darla, played by Meagan Good.
Freddy Freeman played by Adam Brody.
Eugene Choi played by Ross Butler. Eugene's suit is grey, which you can clearly see in the lighting in his trailer. It looks purple in the camera lighting on set for the scene in the throne room that was deleted from the final cut.
Mary played by Michelle Borth.
Marvel's Captain Marvel
The first Captain Marvel published by Marvel Comics was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan in December, 1967. This Captain Mar-Vell was an alien officer in the Kree military. He allied himself with Earth and was branded a traitor. He wore his Kree military uniform, which is a white unitard with black trunks and green accessories of gloves, mask and cowl, boots, belt, and planet symbol on his chest.
Once he became Earth's advocate, he changed his Kree military uniform for a new supersuit of red unitard with blue accessories of trunks, gloves, boots, mask, and half cowl. He had golden blonde hair and a gold star on his chest, with gold wristbands.
Later, Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers) was created by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan in March, 1968 as an officer in the USAF, so that Mar-Vell would have a love interest. Her DNA was fused with Mar-Vell's during an explosion that gave her super powers, creating the first human-Kree hybrid. The title "Ms." was chosen in tribute to Gloria Steinem and her Ms. Magazine, to associate her with the new feminist movement, which you can read all about here in this Washington Post article. Carol got a job at the Daily Bugle with Peter Parker, and became the fashion editor. While there she fought for equal pay for equal work. She later joined the Avengers.
Her costume was similar to Captain Mar-Vell's, although much more revealing. She wore a red, long- sleeved leotard with a cowl neckline and a tummy cut out. Her trunks were black, as were her boots, gloves, and mask. She had the same golden blonde hair and star on her leotard. She had something resembling a cape, but it seems to be a scarf that trails out behind her, perhaps attached to the cowl neckline.
Later, they got rid of the tummy cut out. There's a better view of the scarf in this one.
Ms. Marvel in 2006 by Brian Reed, Paul Renaud, Ben Oliver, and Sana Takeda. She was still being written and drawn by men and was wearing even less clothes than before. She looked less like a superhero and more like a dominatrix.
In 2012, Carol Danvers assumed the name Captain Marvel in honor of the original, now deceased Mar-Vell, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and drawn by Jaime McKelvie. For the first time in her history, a woman was writing her story and making decisions on how she was going to look. Her costume was completely redesigned and was no longer the sexy, skimpy, completely impractical thing it was before. She was completely covered up just like male Captain Marvel, looking like she's ready to fight. Her boots did't even have high heels and her helmet scooped up her hair into a mohawk.
Unlike DC and their Shazam! TV series and movies, Marvel never made any Captain Marvel movies or TV shows until this year. Captain Marvel's costumes were designed by Sanja Milkovic Hays. The actress was Brie Larson. Here is a Fashionista article where you can read all about the supersuit. And here's a Popsugar interview with Hays about the rest of Brie's 1990's costumes. And here's a Vogue article on the costumes.
Brie Larson did some serious training to get in shape for this role. Here's an article about her training and her stunt doubles, Renae Moneymaker and Joanna Bennett. Because Brie kept training and learning her stunts, as the costume team would do her fittings, her body kept changing, so the suit was continually undergoing tweaking to make it fit better and be more comfortable for all the physicality and action sequences. By the end of her training, she could deadlift 225 lbs and push a jeep up a hill. This is Brie with Renae Moneymaker.
This Captain Marvel started out in her Kree Starforce military uniform, which had green trim on a black utility jumpsuit, with a star on her chest. The fabric chosen for the jumpsuit was "a mix of leather backed by four-way stretch and panels of spandex-like specialty fabric." The black panels on the Kree suit were printed with a slight teal undertone and shimmered under certain lighting conditions to match the gleaming armor parts. Her boots were actual combat boots and not high heel wedges like most other female superheroes including Leia's grey Hoth boots. The entire suit was made up of independent units to make bathroom breaks easier and faster, but still required six dressers to get Brie out of and back into the suit each time.
Her signature mohawk helmet required a lot of trial and error to design and was a team effort between Brie Larson and costume designer Hays, 3D modeller Adam Ross, Fabricator Russ Shinkle, and hair stylist Camille Friend and their respective teams. The helmet was actually two main pieces that clamshelled together around the mohawk which was a wig, and a separate chin strap. Her own hair was actually held inside the helmet with a balaclava.
My favorite part of the movie was when she redesigned her Kree uniform. Here's the clip with all the different versions that could have been. My favorite is the neon rainbow version. It reminded me of the Wonder Woman 1984 poster art which I have included for comparison below.
Here's the Americanized version of the Kree suit. This is Brie with her other stunt double Joanna Bennett. You can sorta see how the suit is made in pieces, with the top half of the suit separate from the bottom half. Her belt hides the juncture. The top half is a lycra/spandex blend in the appropriate colors that has zip front closure. Most of that gets covered by the leather breastplate that zips up the back with an overlap that hides the zipper and velcros over it. All the pieces either velcro or snap to the underlayer so that everything stays in place while she's moving.
Brie won the MTV People's Choice Award for Best Fight Scene and she brought up her stunt doubles to accept the award with her.
This is the second year of GACC. Last year we cosplayed Flash Gordon to meet Sam Jones and Melody Anderson. We also met the adorably huggable Doug Jones. This year we cosplayed Justice League Dark, and our goal was to meet James C. Leary "Clem" from Buffy and see The Cybertronic Spree in concert. We were not disappointed. As a bonus, we got to meet Michael Biehn from Terminator and attend a Ray Park "Darth Maul" session and watch him teach Wushu fighting style to a bunch of super excited fans. And, as always, there were lots of awesome cosplayers in attendance.
Buffy's "Clem" JAMES C. Leary
The interesting thing about meeting James Leary is that we actually went to the same university (Gig 'Em Aggies), were in theatre there, and have lots of friends in common, we just weren't there at the same time. I took two years off to teach high school in El Paso James' freshman year, and then came back to graduate while James was still taking Engineering courses and hadn't found the theatre deptartment yet. I actually saw James at Comicpalooza five years ago with the other Buffy guests but had no idea at the time that he was an Aggie Player. I was so stoked to find out that I had so much in common with a guy who was on my favorite ever TV show. He was super nice and chatted with us for awhile. We were dressed as Justice League Dark and people kept coming up to us and asking for photos (a guy cosplaying Captain Marvel actually recognized my character--this is only the second time that someone has known who Nightmare Nurse was other than the DC artists at Fan Expo who drew the comic) Long story short, I got so distracted posing for other people's photos, and didn't get a selfie with him or get a group photo of all of us. Anyway, next time James, I'll remember to ask for that photo. Clem was my favorite of all the demons on that show.
Rob is the biggest Michael Biehn fan, so of course we had to see him too. Fortunately our good friend Jennifer Dunham was wrangling both him and his wife Jennifer. They were so nice and we chatted for the longest time. We got to hear all kinds of stories about their little boy and his exploits at school. When it was finally time to take the picture I was so excited. I told him that he was the best thing about Terminator and that I didn't like the others nearly as much because his character wasn't in them.
Face off's Matt Valentine
I watched all 13 seasons of Face Off and was sad when I learned that it was cancelled. Matt Valentine is the third Face Off contestant that I have met on the con circuit. He is teaching FX makeup courses in Austin. Here's the link mattvalentinefx.com to sign up for them. He was doing demos all day of three of the characters he'd created for Face Off. I got to watch the "Ice Cream Clown" application and he signed a photo for me.
The Cybertronic Spree
The Cybertronic Spree is a self-described rock band of former enemies who perform the soundtrack from their 1986 documentary, Transformers: The Movie. It's the kind of show that will take you back to your childhood and you'll find you're singing along to all your favorite shows' theme songs. They performed two original songs as well. In my opinion, their best song was "Immigrant Song" which will forever be associated with Thor Ragnorak (at least for me). If nothing else, it's amazing to me that they can perform in their costumes at all, much less kick ass the way they did. Check out the video below to hear their awesomeness!
As usual, many awesome cosplayers were strutting their stuff. I ran into my friend and former student Jordan, who was cosplaying Princess Bubblegum. I also ran into my EGX friends Lauren and David who were in their usual Hawkgirl and Captain Jack Sparrow cosplays. They both entered the costume contest here last year and won awards, and have been busy judging the Kids' Costume Contest at EGX (formerly Geekfest) for the second year in a row.
This year we had to pay for 4/5 of our tickets @ $23.00 each and $5.00 for parking. Sarah's child ticket was comped, thanks Vo! Food was pretty expensive at the con, Sarah, Seth, and I got pizzas for $11 each. After we left we ate supper at Chuy's right around the corner and got a super huge discount for having been to the con. Our meal for 5 people was only $35.00. We had the best waiter ever! He loved our costumes and showed us photos of the Batcave he'd turned his daughter's bedroom into for her birthday.
Look who's in the Local Paper! US!
To participate in the costume contest, the first thing you have to do is sign up, here at our registration table, manned by Jason and William as Dale and Hank from King of the Hill.
Here's our awesome new Cosplayer trophies for this year.
Starting last year, we invited the top winners to be guest judges for the costume contest. Last year's first guest judge was Brice Garcia. This year's guest judges are Valerie Marten- Ellis and Kayla Robertson-Jones.
Cosplayer Rhiannon as Newt Scamander during the Pre-judging portion of the contest. Contestants are asked to talk about their process and explain their methods, challenges, basically giving the judges and run through of how they designed and built their costume.
Contestants are asked to provide documentation of their process. This is the handout done by Marissa Forest, for her Padme's handmaiden cosplay.
These are the Handmade and Props and Armour contestants modeling their costumes during the Pre-judging portion of the contest.
Here are the costume contest winners with Miss Cynthia Lee Fontaine, our celebrity guest MC for the night. We modified our categories slightly from last year's. This years categories were Costume Casual, Semi-Hand Made, Hand-Made, Groups and Duos, and Props and Armour. We awarded trophies for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in each division, as well as a Judge's Choice Award, and a Best in Show Award.
Costume Casual 1st Place Nadia Ramadan, 2nd Place Jasmine Guerra, 3rd Place Erik White.
Duos/Groups 1st Place Nicole Waterman, Erin Lee, & Ana Nevorez, 2nd Place Izabel Weaver & Kori Camp, 3rd Place Mia & London.
SemiHandmade 1st Place Rhiannon Schlickeisen, 2nd Place Megan Viney, 3rd Place Nicole Tierney.
Props/Armor 1st Place Catt Victory 2nd Place Aaron (no last name given)
Handmade 1st Place Jeffrey Rusco, 2nd Place Marissa Forrest, 3rd Place Alyssa King.
Judges’ Award Kayla Freeman
Best in Show Alyssa Garcia del Solar
EGX FActor Talent contest
Winners: 1st Place Izabel Weaver, 2nd Place Alyssa Garcia del Solar, 3rd Place Mei Davis
This year we had a wide variety of talents: singers, dancers, musicians, comics.
Kids' Costume Contest
Judges this year were Lauren Knowles, and David Mervin.
Every year I man a table to recruit students for the McLennan Theatre program. Last year our table also served as the McLennan Alumni Cosplayers group table where we offered a Cosplay Hospital for needy cosplayers to both mend their costumes and their bodies with hot glue and bandaids, safety pins and Tylenol. You get the idea. I gave out a lot of packets this year. Like last year, star student Brice Garcia helped me man it, as well as my husband.
Panel: Fake Geek Girl
I wrote a blog on this subject awhile ago and Jason suggested that I do it as a panel. So, I presented it Friday evening and Saturday morning. There were maybe 6 or 8 attendants each session. Not nearly as many as I would have hoped, but the people who were there were very passionate about the subject. I first explained why I wrote the blog and then opened it up for questions and comments. The idea was to promote a conversation about the topic. The interesting thing that I noticed, is that the men in the group spoke first and often. The women in the audience sat there and waited for the men to finish speaking and the younger onesespecially had to be coaxed to speak out. I even learned something new: there's an app called Life360 which keeps track of you and your family members in case someone gets snatched. We immediately had all the kids download it. It works really well unless you leave your phone at home or on a Charter Bus to Dallas, like Sarah did the very next week.
More Cool Cosplays
This year they rebranded the Harry Potter Yule Ball. It has become the Cosplay Ball. Brice went all out for it, doing a new steampunk costume, with a handmade leather corset
Lynda Carter was scheduled to appear at the con on Sunday, May 5, which happens to be my birthday. I was so excited I couldn't contain my joy. The first costume I ever designed for a human, rather than a Barbie, was for my sister for her birthday. She wanted to be Wonder Woman. My mom even made her a WW cake. She already had a red bathing suit, so I just made her a crown and bracelets out of paper that I colored with markers. The cape was also paper. I got some twine for her golden lasso and then mom took a photo of her tying me and my friend Denise up with it. My plan was to print out that old photo in a larger size (after a suitable amount of editing for wear and tear in photoshop) and get her to autograph it. I just wanted an opportunity to tell her how much I loved the show and how she was my hero. However, that didn't happen. The only was to get to see her was to buy tickets to her already sold out musical performance that evening. She wasn't going to be table sitting and signing during the day like everyone else. So very disappointed. I was CRUSHED! But I took my photo anyway in the hopes of maybe getting to see her. Instead they had a merch table with this stand up, so I took a photo with that. Then Rob bought me another T-shirt and some magnets. Oh well. You can't always get what you want.
Stalking John Barrowman
At this con last year a theatre group from Austin was giving out badges to promote their production of "Stalking John Barrowman". We got the badges, but never got to see the musical. This year our mission was to literally stalk John Barrowman with our badges on our costumes. Rob bought me a photo-op with him which we did Saturday and then came back Sunday to get him to autograph it. He's fabulous and gives great hugs. But he didn't even notice our badges, either day.
We got to meet Mark Sheppard, whom we love in everything he does: Doctor Who, Supernatural, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Doom Patrol etc.. He was super sweet. We also got to meet the best Lex Luthor ever, Michael Rosenbaum from Smallville. Rob got to meet DC comic book artist Jim Lee who signed his copy of Hush for free! Later Rob got it signed by Scott Williams too. This year it was all about the DC guys. And I met Ejen Chuang and bought his book, Cosplay in America, and then he signed it for me. He took our picture in our Justice League Dark costumes, so maybe we'll end up in his next book.
More Fun PHotos
We took some makeup and hair shots of Rob turning in Swampy before we left. The Braum's employees totally didn't get it. Once we got there, we got some more photos done of our Justice League Dark cosplay with Superhero Photos. They said they would add the magic in for my bandages but they didn't. At the DC booth we got to be photoshopped into the Doom Patrol. That was awesome! Everyone at the Con knew Rob was Swamp Thing, but no one knew who I was except the DC guy, Scott Williams. We didn't have the kids there, so I showed him the photo Briumbra took of us. He was super impressed.
Sunday Rob got to take his picture as Shazam! And I made him take his photos in front of a wall of Wham! albums from Deadpool, because I am Marvel girl. Rob took his photo with Zatana, unfortunately it was Sunday and we were out of costume. We saw a cute family of hobbits and a Gandalf Daddy. Best of all we saw our friend Jennifer Dunham!
The Lorenzo Hotel
Rob found the hotel. It was within walking distance of the Con. It was cheap and almost brand new. There's a pool, but we didn't bring our suits. The decor is wildly literate. We took a ton of photos. The had a little breakfast shack for coffee and muffins which was very reasonable. I think we spent about $20 on breakfast. The inside restaurant was expensive so instead we ate dinner at a nearby Indian food restaurant, which was also great and cheap. The only thing that surprised us when we checked out is that we had to pay to leave our car in the parking lot, not valet, just to park there overnight. That was $20. Rob said the hotel cost us about $150 for one night.
When I heard that Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman costume was going to be on display in Ft. Worth at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, I was there the day after the exhibit opened! It was part of the It's Never Just a Horse exhibition that opened the renovated second floor of the museum in March.
The REst of the Exhibition
While it's true that I went there just to see Gal Gadot's costume, the rest of the museum is definitely worth a look. This is actually the second time I've been there. The renovations have made it much bigger and better. I took a lot of photos of the exhibit upstairs. In terms of a costume collection it's certainly a niche area, but you have to admire the quality of the work. I had done a little research on Annie Oakley when we did Indians (she's a minor character compared to Buffalo Bill) and a little more when we were thinking about doing Annie Get Your Gun. She's a very interesting historical figure, but she's not the only female sharp shooter or even the only cowgirl. She's just the one they made the movie about. Let me tell you about another cowgirl, less famous, but more brave.
This is my maternal great-grandmother, Daisy (Angel) Watkins Lawson. She was born on Sept. 5, 1889 in Arkansas and soon after was carried to Waxahachie, Texas in the arms of her father. He had to walk alongside the covered wagon carrying her mother and all their worldly possessions because Daisy had whooping cough and couldn't sleep on what was surely a very rough ride. Daisy grew up to marry a rancher, William Henry Lawson, who brought her to his home in Mingus, TX after they were married in 1914. She gave birth to my grandfather on their kitchen table May 4, 1918. Unfortunately William died of Spanish Flu just 5 months later. Daisy never remarried. She raised my grandfather Bill, caring for him and managing the cattle ranch alone, with her trusty Border Collie, Fella, by her side. She milked cows, gathered chicken eggs, churned butter, cooked on a cast iron wood stove, shot game as well as predators, and taught Bill everything he needed to know about the land, the animals, and how to care for them both. When Bill grew up he went to Texas A&M to study agriculture, and upon graduation, joined the army to serve during WWII. Daisy continued to run the ranch by herself even though Bill tried to get her to hire some help after he left. The war ended, Bill got married, became a Colonel, and had kids of his own. He continued to serve his country during the Korean War from a desk in the US. He tried to come up there on weekends to help her out, but every time he told her he was coming to mow her lawn or fix something, she would have already done it herself by the time he got there. By the time us great-grandkids were born, he had finally persuaded his mom to sell the ranch and move to a house in town. She picked Santo which was 15 miles down the road from Mingus. She lived there, getting up at the crack of dawn, doing chores, baking break, and mowing her own lawn with a pushmower until the day she died in 1971. She was 82. FYI, the little girl in the photo with her isn't me. That's my Aunt Karen, who is the youngest of her grandchildren and the only person still alive who has actual memories of her. My mom shared Daisy's story with me when my grandpa died in 1997. And now I'm sharing it with you, so it won't be forgotten.
This museum, and specifically this exhibition, is a much needed highlighting of the history of women and their roles in the Western expansion of the United States.
Adult tickets were $12. Parking can cost $10 depending on where you can find a space. We were lucky and got a space in the museum lot and got free parking with our validated tickets. The museum has elevators and a gift shop, but no snack bar, so plan on eating somewhere else.
Cave Women on Mars is the third in an ongoing series of loving homages to 1950's B sci-fi/horror films directed by Christopher R. Mihm. So far this is our favorite one. I'm done with cosplays right now, but this is for the next time we'll see him, whenever that ends up being. Probably not till next year at Waxacon. But whenever that day comes, we're so gonna do this. Maybe even in B&W!
The impetus for this post happened way back in 2013 a full year before I entered the 21st century and started this blog. Rob and I went to Aggiecon to see George RR Martin. It was our first comic con together and we were super excited to be there. We did our first cosplay, a hurried attempt at Steampunk, and we went to several panels, the most interesting of which was "Fake Geek Girl" presented by Dr. Nerdlove aka Harris O'Malley. He's a blogger from Austin who does a podcast where he gives dating advice to nerds. His panel was about the recent and troubling "fake geek girl" phenomenon that had been plaguing comic cons. He wanted to weigh in on it and hopefully help to stop it. As part of that discussion I stated that my first Aggiecon was way back in 1993 when it was still tiny and held on campus, and that I hadn't felt any animosity to my gender way back then and I certainly hadn't felt any today. Oh how naive I was back then.
*****Not to go out on too long of a bunny trail, but why is it that only girls are decried as FAKE? The fact that we're even having to have this discussion about how to stop the harassment of girls at cons should have been enough to clue me into the fact that my gender has always been discriminated against and is still being discriminated against even if I was previously unaware of it, but that's another post for another time. I will say one last thing about this topic of gender discrimination. Since 2013, the number of cons I have been to where there is significant and prominent signage warning attendees that "Cosplay is not consent" is very telling. All of the big cons-- Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio have this signage. *****
Anyway, after what was a great two hour long discussion among like-minded people, he handed out these hilarious bumper stickers that were designed to be a joke. I took one and immediately stuck it on my office door and it's been there ever since.
Because the discussion had riled up my social justice warrior instincts, Rob and I talked about it all the way home. I had a lot of ideas about how a woman (or anyone) could go about proving that they weren't a fake geek. I got so into the whole idea, that once I got home I wrote a whole essay about it and then like some ridiculous fangirl, I emailed it to Dr. Nerdlove! Yes, I did! Of course I didn't hear anything back from him at all, I didn't expect to, and once I'd sent it off I forgot about it until we started going to more cons and I started to become more interested in cosplay and my family wanted me to make them costumes from comic books that I hadn't read and I had to start reading comic books to push back on the nerd rage I was experiencing from my step son.
Seth has been reading comic books his whole life, like his dad. Unlike his dad, he didn't have the social skills to talk about superheroes with me without it coming off as super insulting and treating me like an idiot. Granted, he was nine years old when they moved in with me and my nine year old son didn't read comic books so all I had as reference were the movies and tv shows that I'd seen growing up. I soon learned that Superfriends was NOT at all the same thing as Justice League of America. I had SO much to learn and Seth's intellect and appetite for reading was voracious. This became the impetus for me to explore Supersuits and get Seth to help me so we could finally be on the same team instead of on opposite sides of every argument that came up. The first argument we ever had was whether or not Buffy was a superhero. That one turned bitter really quickly and I can now freely admit that I was on the wrong side of it, but it took years and 18 tons of research for the Supersuit blog in order for me to see the error of my ways. So yes, I did all this just to form a better relationship with Seth.
Flash forward to 2018 Dallas Fan Expo. Dr. Nerdlove is a vendor and we just happen to spot him as we are cruising up and down the convention floor. I stop to say hi and tell him how we saw him back at Aggiecon and I still have my Fake Geek Girl sticker. He then tells me that it's probably one of the last ones in existence and proceeds to tell me the story of what happened at the very next con he attended after Aggiecon. He had been handing the stickers out like he did before, but this time some jerk took them seriously and went around slapping them on the butts and backs of women at the con. Of course Dr. Nerdlove was furious that his art had been used to harass the very people he had made them for. He struggled with his feelings, but felt he had to quit making them so that it wouldn't happen again. The incident made the news and you can read about it here.
So why am I bringing all of this up today? I was looking for a power point I'd made back in September and I couldn't remember where I saved it. As I was searching through folders I hadn't opened in years, I happened to come across the essay that I wrote five years ago. Naturally I opened it up and read it because although I remembered the fury I'd written it in, I couldn't remember what I'd written at all. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it still feels timely and accurate so I thought I'd go ahead and publish it. You can decide for yourselves if you think I'm onto something. I still wish I had a math friend who would do a lovely Venn diagram or flow chart to accompany my essay. I just love visual aids.
PS: I've included the link to Dr. Nerdlove's website in case any of you need help in that area. He's published several books as well and he now makes T-shirts with the Fake Geek Girl artwork on them. You should totally support his work, he's awesome and smart.
Geek Matriculation: Thoughts on the Aggiecon Panel, "Fake Geek Girl"
Professor Kathleen Laundy 3/25/2013
Abstract: This paper explores the phenomenon of the Fake Geek Girl and presents a theory on how one becomes a Geek and how to measure said Geekiness in order to put to rest the “fake” epithet currently in use.
At Aggiecon this weekend I went to a panel called "Fake Geek Girl: A discussion about the fear and loathing directed towards geek girls decried as fake". Having been self-identified as a band geek since 1982 I was curious about this phenomenon where people were apparently hating on girls who did not display (to their critics' satisfaction) enough "geek cred". The 2 hour exchange of ideas really opened my eyes to an area in which I was previously unaware that bigotry and misogyny existed: at the Conventions whose sole purpose is to celebrate all things geeky. It made me really think about what it is to be a geek and how an individual became one. Here are my thoughts. There are two aspects of geekdom: how one becomes a geek and ways to identify just how geeky you are. The first aspect I call Geek Matriculation, the second measures your Level of Obsession with all things Geeky.
From the time we are born we are constantly processing information, growing, changing, and incorporating the world around us into our own personalities. The process of Geek Matriculation begins in Elementary School and continues throughout our adolescence culminating in College/University when we finally graduate from Life with our degree in Geekiness that accompanies us into the “real world” and is perhaps the only fundamentally unchangeable thing about the rest of our lives. There are two aspects to Geek Matriculation and they can be found at every level of our educational system. These are Inclusive and Exclusive traits. Let me define my terms. An inclusive trait is one that includes you in a certain group, like a skill or ability that you inherently have. An exclusive trait is something that you may or may not have control over, but that others use as a justification to exclude you from their social circles. Much like the DSM, Geekiness can be measured on a scale. If you check more boxes than not, you are probably a fully-matriculated Geek.
Here are a few examples of how Geek Matriculation looks:
Level of Obsession:
So now that we’ve discovered how one becomes a Geek, let’s take a look at just how Geeky you have become throughout your Geek Matriculation. I call this aspect Level of Obsession. If I were a Math major I would draw you either a lovely Venn diagram or at the very least a graph that would illustrate my point. In my head I imagine a simple graph showing on the left an arrow rising vertically measuring Time Spent on Obsession and another arrow travelling right horizontally measuring Percentage of Take Home Pay Spent on Obsession. The graph would include the following nine categories (much like the nine rings). I would state emphatically that it is not necessary to possess a High Level of Obsession in all nine categories to be considered a “true geek”. One may either have a moderate level of obsession in several categories or a high level of obsession in only one category or any combination thereof.
Again, if I were a Math person, I’d place various specific examples on the graph showing Low Obsession like buying one cheap Star Wars toy, taking it out of the box immediately, and playing with it… compared to an example showing High Obsession like buying 3 of the same expensive Star Wars toys so that you have one to take out and play with immediately, one for “display purposes only”, and one to NEVER open that gets put away in a dark closet so that it may remain unspoiled and therefore its value will remain undiminished for future generations.
Using my method to rate another’s Level of Obsession in these nine areas, you will find that it becomes very difficult to berate another’s “Geek Street Cred”. For example, my personal Comic book, Anime and Gaming score is so low it is non-existent, but my scores in the other 6 areas are in the moderate to freakishly high range. If the suspected “fake Geek” spent the time and money in order to attend a convention, in a costume, and is currently standing in line to meet an author, that person IS NOT A FAKE GEEK. “Not cool, dude.”
It was suggested to me by Jason Sanchez that I should do this as a panel at Epically Geeky Expo (EGX), formerly known as Geekfest, this coming May. Toward that end I am in the process of doing some more research into this topic as it is very wide ranging and complex. I want to both expose the negative as well as tout the positive. For example, I plan to explore the #gamergate controversy of 2014 and how the common portrayal of women as sex objects or damsels in distress contributes to the latent misogyny, racism, and homophobia in the online gaming community. I also want to put together a substantive list of the many important women in geekdom who have successfully navigated the misogyny to both break into a male dominated industry and then continue to produce quality work. My hope is to educate and inspire our diverse Geek community to become more inclusive, diverse, and accepting, and less divisive. Feel free to comment with any examples, suggestions, sources, or advice as I continue to research, compile, and edit.
We love Game of Thrones, although we don't let the kids watch it. We're very excited for the final season to come out next year. We've read all the books that have been released so far (before we broke down and got HBO to see the series). But the real reason we're doing this cosplay is that we need Renfaire costumes to wear to TRF for Black Friday. We normally go in our Celtic Christmas costumes, but I've been wanting to do this one for awhile now and get our pictures taken professionally, so this is the year. Unfortunately, I have less than 3 weeks to put this together and I'm in tech for our second show this week. Fortunately, I've already got everything I need for John Snow from stuff we had around the house. None of this is going to be screen accurate, that would take way more time than I have, and money that I already spent at Waxacon. But it will be good enough to get a nice family photo. I've got a lot of things I can use at school. Probably the only thing I'll have to make it Dany's top and cape.
Rob as Robert Baratheon
He has brown boots, a belt, and I have plenty of crowns. He just needs a purple doublet and brown pants. I can maybe throw that together.
I found a skirted doublet that I can use as well as the extra fabric it was made from so I can add extra room at the side seams for his tummy. I had to slit up the CF seam and add a panel to provide the extra room. I also cut out the armseye to give him more freedom of movement. I removed the purple sleeves and cut a new set of sleeves in gold and I added shoulder wings out of the purple fabric. He still needs a wig because he's shaved off all his hair and I'm going to have to regrey his beard after he dyed it black for Ming, but that's OK.
I spent about four hours this weekend finishing up all the alterations on this costume. I did a self-casing with elastic for the waistband of the pants. Then I removed the collar, cut the neckline down on the doublet, cut the collar height down as well, added about 3 inches to the CB seam of the collar and then reattached it. I had to re-attach most of the gold trim as well since removing the collar also ripped most of the handsewing out. I also removed the cuffs from the old purple sleeves and attached them to the new gold sleeves. I found a crown that fits and a grey wig. I found grey hairspray for his beard and it's done.
Me as Cersei Lannister
I made a dress for Lady Capulet a few years back that's almost the right color and exactly the right shape. My hair's not long or blond enough, but I can buy another wig.
I found the dress, of course it's too small, and the big sleeves are missing. I'm still looking for them.
Wednesday during cosplay club meeting, I ripped the skirt off the bodice, removed the inner sleeves and the upper sleeves, removed all the gold trim, took out all four darts and had Jason fit it on me. I ended up adding two panels in at the side seams made from the upper sleeves. That made it big enough in the bust and rib cage measurements to close in the back. But my cup size was much larger than the girl it had been cut for originally and I needed to extend the length of the bodice so that the waistline seam didn't cut me across the nipples. It had been hemmed twice because it was originally made for a very tall actress and each subsequent time it was used had to be hemmed even higher. I let out all the hems to find out that it had originally been cut at 52" long. I was planning on cutting some fabric out of the hem to use to extend the bodice, but then realized that I could cut it from the waist instead and there would be less wasted fabric because the skirt at the waist was the same measurement as the bodice at the waist (the skirt was originally gathered and should have been longer but since I added the panels in at the side seams, it turned out to be the same length. I used the top 7" of the skirt to extend the length of the bodice. I also raised the shoulder seam 1 1/2" which had the added bonus of covering more of my ample bosom. I cut the armseye lower and re-serged the raw edge. When I fit it back on my size 16 mannequin, I then repinned the four darts but only in the additional piece. The darts end at the seamline. Cerci's neckline is a V, so I still need to recut the neckline. Because I ripped off all the gold trim, the hem is now coming out and has to be redone anyway.
I gave up looking for the sleeves, so I've found the same fabric in gold and will cut new sleeves out of that. I found a gorgeous red upholstery fabric with a floral pattern that I am using for trim. I spent a good 4 hours Tuesday making mostly 3" bias for the sleeves and skirt hem, as well as 1" bias for the neckline edge. I rehemed the skirt, cut the Vee neckline and hemmed it, and attached all the bias trim on Wednesday. I still need to attach the sleeves, which I will do tomorrow morning, yes I know it's Thanksgiving, but since Seth has football practice anyway and we're going to Rob's relatives' house for dinner, I can totally spend the morning sewing without feeling guilty. I still have so much work to do.
On Black Friday I finally got my sleeves sewn in and bought a blonde wig. It's not really long enough or curly enough, but it'll do. I only paid $32.00 for it from Beauty Mart.
Seth as John Snow
I made Rob a black doublet out of my grandmother's black leather trenchcoat almost 10 years ago that will work perfectly. Rob already had black period pants and a shirt. I've got boots at school. Rob has a sword. And I've got two different capes. We just bleached his hair for John Constantine, so now I'll have to dye it black again. Plus it's a lot shorter now, but it grows fast. The only thing I ended up sewing was attaching the fur collar to the cape. Until I decided that he needed a better cape. So I made a new one on black Friday out of black corduroy.
Sylvan as Tyrion Lannister
I made red leather doublets for Richard III almost 20 years ago now. I just need to find one that's large enough for him. Black pants and shirt are all he needs. He already bought a flask and knows his one line, "I drink and I know things." He's bald right now from being Deadman, but it'll grow some in the next three weeks. I can always put him in a wig. He'll hate it, but it'll keep his head warm. I found a great ginger wig.
I gave up on the red leather doublet idea, because none of the ones I made for Richard are large enough. So luckily he fits into Rob's Celtic Christmas doublet. He's supposed to have a grey tunic underneath with long sleeves and a skirt. I pulled out the coat I made for Malcolm in Macbeth. I made it with donated fabric and there was never enough for sleeves which always disappointed me. I pulled two other grey fabric scraps and cut sleeves from the denim, and lining for the pre-existing shoulder wings out of the upholstery sample, The collar is perfect, but the whole thing is too small in the chest and the peplum is too long for anyone other than the guy it was made for. So I cut 7 inches off the hem and used it to extend the CF closure and create a new peplum for the new extended CF. I got the entire sleeve treatment cut, stiffened with horse hair, lined, and sewn in this morning. Now we just need to do another fitting. I spent almost 7 hours working on it Monday.
I went in to work on it Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving.) I spent about 4 hours on it. I had to recut the red doublet's armseye to enlarge it, esp underneath, and I had to take in the CB seam. The hook and eye tape had been ripped off in the middle section at some point, (too much stress in that area) so that needed to be repaired. I had to restitch the collar lining on the grey tunic, hem and stitch the new CF peplum pieces in at the waist and then attach them to the former CF peplum pieces by hand. I hemmed the sleeves too. All it needs now is some closures. He can wear his black dance pants and I found him some black boots today, but they need insoles.
Sarah as Danyaers Targaryan
I'm going to have to make her top and cape. She needs grey pants and boots. And a dragon. No problem. We'll have to bleach her hair again.
I found pants and boots. The boots I actually made 23 years ago in graduate school. I found some lovely blue fabrics for the cape, lining, and her bodice. The cape fabric is an upholstery grade fake crushed velvet. It's more like it's velvet pile that's been flocked onto a canvas backing. But I washed it and it didn't fall apart and it's got a much softer hand now. I'm lining it with a poly wrinkled taffeta. The pattern for the cape is a standard semi-circle with a separate piece in the front that has a dart in the shoulder area so it sits comfortably on her shoulders and hopefully won't pull back on her neck and choke her as a lot of capes are wont to do. I finished the cape Tuesday.
The bodice is a heavy sateen/lycra blend. It has a two way stretch. I draped the pattern on my size 6 mannequin (the smallest I have) which is still 6 inches too big in the bust and 4 inches too big in the waist. This was all on Tuesday. I got her in a for a fitting on Wednesday and the length is fine as is the back. It's mostly a problem of the bust that Sarah doesn't have yet because she's just 11. However, I've cut it on the 6 anyway and will make adjustments with the darts so that she can still wear it next year after what I'm sure will be the first of many a growing spurt. It's a complicated pattern due to the overlapping asymmetrical nature of the skirt and it ended up being 10 pieces. Hopefully I'll get is sewn together this morning. So Thursday morning I got the 10 pieces all serged and darted and Friday I combined the 8 skirt pieces into 2. I can't do anything else until I have a fitting, which I'm hoping to get done this weekend.
After the fitting I sewed up the darts in the front, attached the skirt pieces and hemmed everything. I also lowered the armseye a bit. It's ready to ride! I just need a pin for the cape and we ordered a prop dragon from Amazon.
Here's the photo
We're super unhappy with it. I'll never pay anyone who's not Briumbra Photography to take our photo ever again.
Sarah's photo is better although the dragons they photoshopped in are lame.
We were super excited to attend this con (in only its second year) because we found out Briumbra Photography was going to be there. I planned a new cosplay for it--Justice League Dark-- and we were even more excited to find out that they were having a costume contest both days so that we could enter two sets of costumes. The tickets were a sweet deal 4 adult tickets for both days for $100 plus kids under 12 got in for $5 on Saturday and were free on Sunday. We bought the tickets, booked a hotel (more about that later) and I started sewing, this was back in June. I sewed for 4.5 months on this new cosplay and wasn't finished till 4pm on Halloween. There weren't really any guests we were excited to meet except for this one filmmaker that we'd never heard of, Christopher Mihm.
We redid Flash Gordon on Saturday with no wig for Seth, a wig for Sarah and more bling for Ming. At Greater Austin Comic Con, Seth forgot to wear his Timex watch and Sarah forgot to wear her white plastic belt. Her white shoes literally fell apart as we were walking in, so we had to get her new ones after the photo. And because I was sewing right up to the last minute, I didn't get any of the gold trim on Ming before the con, so I did it all afterwards. I also didn't like the way the weight of my belt was making it fall way down over my tummy so I safety pinned it through the elastic on my skirt to the keep it up high. Seth had a pants-tastrophe because his pants from June didn't fit anymore, so we had to go to Walmart and buy him a new pair that morning. But we entered our costumes in the costume contest and Ming won first place and Aura won second place. They wouldn't let us enter as a group since they didn't have any other groups enter. Maybe next year. Ming's prize was 6 free two day passes to next year's con and a free photo session with Briumbra Photography. Aura's prize was 4 free two day passes to next year's con and another free photo session with Briumbra Photography. Of course we'd already paid for our photo that morning, so we used it the next day to get our photo of JLD.
Sarah helped me do everyone's makeup and hair and then went around taking photos to document. Unfortunately we were so busy trying to get packed up and check out of the murder hotel before we were murdered, she didn't get one of me. We were going to compete in the costume contest with these costumes as well on Sunday, but since we already won 10 passes for next year and one more Briumbra session than we had costumes for, we decided we'd rather just get back to Waco as soon as possible and maybe get some sleep in our own beds, since no one slept a wink in the murder motel either night.
Christopher Mihm, Filmmaker extraordinaire
We got to meet the director/writer of a series of 13 amazing homages to 1950's B movies. We were able to see three of his films and we were so tickled, we bought all thirteen of them and crowd funded the upcoming fourteenth one. Christopher threw in a free poster. Over the course of two days we saw The Giant Spider, The House of Ghosts, and The Monster of Phantom Lake. We talked to him and his merch team a lot and he's going to be coming back through Texas in January is looking for another date to go in between two cons he's already set up to do. I mentioned we have a theatre in Waco that does stuff like this, The Hippodrome and that friends of mine are in a shadow cast of Rocky Horror that perform there sometimes. I thought it would be great to get the two of them together and have an all day science fiction double feature of his films and then Rocky Horror at midnight. I'm trying to set that up for him.
Other fun stuff at the con
Lone Star Wars does Star Wars art out of Lone Star boxes and cans. Rob bought a T-shirt from him. Here's a link to his website. They travel to a lot of cons, including Alamocity and Bell County. Rob spent a lot of time talking to the artist.
Art REDO and Canady's Wands share a space in the old Unfinished Furniture building on LaSalle in our hometown of Waco. It's funny how sometimes you have to travel to another city to find people in your hometown. Dylan Canady and David Jacobs were great fun to talk to and have really cool things to sell you. They are open every day except Monday. David at Art REDO collects junk and turns it into functioning sculpture like ray guns, Robbie the Robot, clocks, fans, and lamps. Dylan Canady works in wood to make beautifully handcrafted Harry Potter wands and other magical items like Daenerys' dragon eggs, potions and spells. This is where I spent most of my time.
Executive Inn and Suites, aka The Murder Motel
The reason we chose this hotel is because we normally cram all 5 of us into one hotel room with two queen or king beds and a pull out couch. We are always stepping over each other's stuff, there's never enough room, and the kids make us super grumpy arguing all the time. So after last time, I decided we'd just stay at a cheaper place and get two rooms instead so everyone would be more comfortable, even if the rooms weren't as nice. I did check reviews online and the ones for Executive Inn and Suites were better than the ones for Motel 6, plus you got a free breakfast. The EIAS were slightly further away from the con location than Motel 6 but we felt that the free breakfast would more than make up for the extra half mile of driving.
The Executive Inn and Suites in Waxahachie that's right off I-35 is a home for meth heads, Stephen King's Pet Semetary, and a burial ground for potential murder victims. People who are unhappy with the state of their hotel room clearly don't survive long enough to post a bad Yelp review. Don't stay here. The free breakfast is just three different types of cereal and a honeybun. It's not worth it. We were lucky to escape with our lives! I'm not even kidding. We took photos of all the things wrong with the room when we arrived after dark. The parking lot was full of a herd of feral cats all fighting with each other and yowling like they were being murdered themselves. The stairwells were full of garbage, the steps were broken, the landings were uneven and made you feel like you were drunk trying to walk around up there. The door lock was half pulled off and then screwed back down. There was no dowel rod for the toilet paper, the toilet seat was the wrong size for the bowl, the knob on the bathroom door didn't work and we were afraid to pull the door shut because we weren't sure we'd be able to get back out. The mirror was cracked, the "repainting" was sloppy. Sarah said everything was red to hide the blood. The enamel was peeling off the tub, there were stains on the walls, the furniture, the carpet, and the ceiling. There were live bugs in the drawers and dead bugs behind the furniture. Sarah never got in her bed, just slept on top of it with her blanket and pillow that she'd brought with her. Sylvan brought a sleeping bag and just slept in it. The beds were hard as rocks, they felt like they'd been stuffed with hardback books and sawdust and they creaked really loudly every time you sat on them. The boys beds were short-sheeted. The phones were from another chain of motels--in our room it was from Knight's Inn and in the boys room it was from Hampton Inn. The bathroom floor was the only thing I felt clean standing on.
Because we got there after dark, we didn't see the rest of the grounds until we got up to get our free breakfast the next morning. There had been a pool, but it had been filled in with dirt and someone left a shovel in the middle (for digging your own graves) and many black plastic garbage bags (filled with dismembered body parts). God knows what was in the pool shed that was locked and moldy, but the rest of the rooms facing in towards the pool were also moldering, crumbling, and falling apart. There seemed to be a crematorium on the grounds and more trash than the city dump. Feral cats were still there in the morning, probably feasting on all the new bodies that had been thrown out during the night. Sarah pointed out the large variety of red mushrooms that were growing by the crematorium, probably soaked in blood.
No one slept the first night what with the filthiness of the room, the howling of the cats, and the midnight banging on the walls coming from next door. We were looking forward to the free breakfast, but it was literally only three kinds of sugary cereal, bad coffee, and pre-packaged honeybuns. We had a cup of the free coffee, (it was bad) and the boys got honeybuns (they were in cellophane which is the only reason I let them have one) and then we high-tailed it out of there and went to IHOP for real food with protein. We went back to the room, managed to get ready quickly, and spent the rest of the day somewhere else-- at the con, eating out, driving, literally anywhere but at the motel. We wanted to go see Bohemian Rhapsody, but didn't make it out of El Fenix in time to catch the 7:30 show, so we ate as leisurely as we could and sadly went back to the hotel.
The second night we had a giant thunderstorm and that's when we realized that there were holes in the roof because the rainwater dripped on Sylvan's bed all night. No one wanted to sleep so we ended up watching The Simpson's Treehouse of Horror, a Samantha Bee rerun, and SNL. We slept badly, but not as badly as Sylvan, who slept like a victim of Chinese water torture with rain water dripped on his head all night. Of course the time changed this weekend, which is really what we'd been looking forward to, an extra hour of sleep at our nice hotel, but it just meant an extra hour of no sleep at our murder motel. We ate breakfast at Waffle House, a place I generally avoid because of all the drunks, but was a welcome alive and happy place comparatively. We had a fantastic waitress who took care of us very well. We rushed back to the room, got ready, packed our crap as quickly as we could and got the hell outta dodge before the meth heads killed us for our stuff.
2018 was the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley's novel, so the National Theatre screened another encore version of their production in the U.S. so viewers could see both versions. Yes, there are two versions of the play because the director, Danny Boyle, thought it would make the show more interesting to have the actors playing Victor and the Creature switch roles every night. You need two amazing actors to be able to pull that off, which is why Benedict Cumberbatch was cast. I hadn't heard of Johnny Lee Miller then, but I'll definitely look for him in other things now. They were both so phenomenal that they jointly won the Olivier Award for Best Actor.
I got tickets for the whole family to see this production for my husband's birthday. On Oct. 22 Benedict Cumberbatch played the Creature and on Oct. 29 he played Victor Frankenstein. We had originally planned to see the Oct. 22 version which was my husband's actual birthday, however, Seth having football practice that night was going to make it difficult for us to get there on time. Fortunately, the next week was a bi week and Seth didn't have practice on Monday, so we bought tickets for the 29th version instead. The tickets were $14 each, so twice as much as a regular movie, but so worth it. We didn't get to see anything at the National when we were in London and this definitely made up for it. I wrote a whole blog about the tour of the National that you can reference.
Here are the two official trailers you can watch:
Because the National Theatre is committed to teaching and allows all British schools to show the movies of their plays for free, they also make accompanying educational videos. Before our screening they played all of these.
Here's a few selected reviews of the original production that I thought might be of interest to you. The Tumblr reviewer Another Boy Who Lived, also saw both versions and all the educational materials and goes into quite a bit of detail about how the actors performances were either different or similar in each role, but focusing more on The Creature. The NASSR graduate student review is more focused on the production's relationship to Romanticism and how the playwright and director use the themes of the novel to make statements about our current political climate and the place of science in it.
Director Danny Boyle worked closely with Nick Dear, the playwright, to bring this version of Mary Shelley's novel to life. It is not surprising that he put together a design team of people he'd worked with before: Costume Designer Suttrit Lalab, Scenic Designer Mark Tildesley, and Score Composer Underworld had worked with him on Sunshine and done two other films with him separately before Frankenstein and went on to do the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony with him afterwards.
Stage Design--Mark Tildesley
The National Theatre's Olivier stage is a revolve that contains two independent lifts. It can seem to corkscrew up and down to aid in massive set changes. The first set piece is what seems to be a drum head, but turns out to be an incubator of sorts. It's a metal circle that has three different pieces of stretch fabric tied to the edges like a trampoline on it's side. The Creature is inside of the fabric and slips out like he's being born. There's a staircase and what looks to be a library of books stage right and above on a second level.
Although the scenery seemed to be very minimal at the time, in retrospect, there was a lot going on. It's a huge space and most of the time it was fairly empty, but there was always something in the space to look at and for the characters to interact with. Besides the incubator, there were tracks that held a steam train, which later contained a patch of grass. there was DeLacey's house that was built like a scrim and could be seen inside of,
there was a wooden quay across Lake Geneva (another great lighting effect) that descended in two parts from the fly.
There was Frankenstein's house which converts into his bedroom as well as his lab in Scotland where he makes the Bride,
Costume Design--Suttirat Anne Larlarb
Suttirat Larlarb is an American costume designer. Her parents are both Thai and came to the US as Fulbright scholars. She attended Stanford where she majored in studio art and then received her MFA at Yale School of Drama where she studied under Ming Cho Lee. She's on faculty at Carnegie Mellon since 2013. She met director Danny Boyle when she moved to London after graduating and worked on three of his films including Sunshine, Slum Dog Millionaire, and 127 Hours. Here's an interview with her from 2011.
The costume design was consistent with the date of the novel's publication. Men in three piece suits with hose and pumps, and women in Empire-waisted dresses. Much like the scenery, the costumes seemed minimal at the time because you're so focused on the Creature's journey, you forget that there are other characters in the play. The first group of people that The Creature encounters are laying track for a steam train, a prostitute entertaining them, a couple of beggars cooking dinner, and eventually DeLacey and his family. After killing Delacey he seeks out Frankenstein and inserts himself into his family by killing William. Each character seems to stay in one costume for most of the show. Elizabeth has two costumes--a green dress, and her wedding dress that she takes off to reveal a nightgown.
Lighting Design-- Bruno Poet
There were almost 4,000 Tungsten bulbs hung from a mirrored ceiling. There were wired to many banks of dimmers so that they could control each area of light separately. The light chandelier functioned as the electrical charge that brings The Creature to life. In addition to providing its own light, it also served as a reflective surface that the more traditional lights could focus on and illuminate. Here's an interview with Factorylux where you can read all about the technical aspects of the lighting. Here's another article written for Theatre Crafts magazine that is much more in depth about the lighting and sound design of the production.
Makeup and Hair Design--Giuseppe Cannas
I actually had to do some research to get the name of the person responsible for the special effects makeup for The Creature. IMDB doesn't list the creative team, just the actors and camera operators who were involved in the filming. The National Theatre's archive doesn't list makeup and hair on the program in their own archive, so I emailed the archive and they actually got back to me with an answer in less than 24 hours! This is the answer I got: "The make-up for Frankenstein (2011) was designed by our in-house NT Wigs, Hair and Make-Up Department which is managed by Giuseppe Cannas". So thanks, Fran Horner, for answering my question. It still doesn't give me the name of the makeup artist or the prosthetics designer, but hey, it's something.
There is however, an article in the Daily Mail that at least gives us more photos of the makeup process, but still doesn't mention the name of the designer nor the artist who worked for 2 hours every night getting the boys into their makeup and 40 minutes taking it off. I can tell you that Benedict wore a bald cap as The Creature, due to his commitments to Sherlock he was unable to shave his head, while Johnny Lee Miller shaved his head and wore a wig as Victor.
The special effects makeup on the Creature were outstanding. He was clearly stitched together, bloody and bruised from surgery. The other great fx makeup that we get is his Bride who shows up in two scenes: one clothed and one unclothed. Contrary to other representations of the Bride, she is not more finely put together than The Creature. She is just as scarred and bruised and bloody with equally litte hair.
Photo credits: Simon Annand
Photo credits: Catherine Ashmore
3. Industrial Revolution
4. Dawn of Eden
5. Beggars Attack and Creature Alone
6. De Lacey Cottage Guitar
7. Not a King (Snow)
8. Faery Folk and Nightingale
9. Female Creature Dream
10. Creature Banished and Cottagers Burn
11. Hide and Seek, Body in Boat
12. The Alps
13. Frankenstein House
14. Sea Shanty and Croft
15. Bride Creature.Walk
16. Bride Creature.Death
17. Wedding Song and Bedroom
18. Arctic Wastes
19. Come Scientist Destroy
Jamie and Jason Price were two of the best students the MCC Theatre Dept. has ever had. I had only been teaching two years when they came to school here from Canadian, Texas, a little country town north of Amarillo. They were twin brothers who were pursing theatre as a major but also still wanted to do music. I first met them because I was on the Tartan Scholarship committee and they had applied so I was conducting their interview. I was excited to learn that they were going to be in my department, so I took a special interest in them. They were perhaps the hardest working students I've ever had. So I was delighted to find out that they had jointly won MCC's Distinguished Alumni award and that Dr. SoRelle had asked me to help her present them with their awards at the special luncheon that they have for all the Foundation donors. Dr. SoRelle asked me to put together a slide show of all the stuff they had done while at MCC (1999-2001) as well as tell some humorous stories about their time here.
Slideshow of their time at MCC
They were not able to come to Waco to receive their awards, Jamie teaches in New York and Jason teaches in England, but they sent videos of their acceptance speeches for us to watch. Here's their lovely twin statuettes that Cindy and I got to accept on their behalf.
MCC Highlander Alumni Association Presents Awards, 9-22-2018
The McLennan Community College Foundation's Highlander Alumni & Friends Association recently presented two prestigious awards to alumni of McLennan Community College: the Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Leader awards.
Twin brothers Jamie Cacciola-Price and Dr. Jason Price are the dual recipients of the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award. The brothers, who are from a small town in the Texas Panhandle, Canadian, TX, attended McLennan as Theatre majors from 1999-2001 as Tartan Scholars.
Jamie Cacciola-Price currently is head of Theatre at the Frank Sinatra School for the Arts in Queens, New York. In 2016, Jamie received the prestigious Empire State Excellence in Teaching Award from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He was also a runner-up for the 2018 Tony Awards high school teacher of the year. Jamie is pursuing a doctorate in education at the NYU Steinhardt School of Education.
Dr. Jason Price currently serves as the Senior Lecturer (Professor) at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, where he has earned a reputation as an esteemed theatre scholar. Jason published the well-received book, Modern Popular Theatre. He has also published Contemporary Theatre Review, Comedy Studies, Popular Entertainment Studies, and Studies in Theatre and Performance.
The Price brothers will visit Waco in mid-November, when they will present several theatre workshops for MCC students.
You can buy Dr. Jason Price's book right here on Amazon. It's only $27.99 in paperback.
MCC hosting Distinguished Alumni Guest Artist Q&A Nov. 12
Jamie Cacciola-Price and Dr. Jason Price, twin brothers and recipients of the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award from the MCC Foundation's Highlander Alumni & Friends Association, will return to Waco Nov. 12 for a series of Guest Artist Workshops hosted by the McLennan Community College Visual & Performing Arts Division.
A Q&A session with the Price brothers titled "The Road from McLennan to Successful Careers in Industry and Theatre Education" will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 12 in room 110 of the Music & Theatre Arts building on the MCC campus. The event is free and open to the public. Each of the brothers will also present in-depth theatre workshops earlier in the day for MCC students.
The Price brothers attended McLennan as Theatre majors from 1999-2001 as Tartan Scholars. Jamie Cacciola-Price currently is head of Theatre at the Frank Sinatra School for the Arts in Queens, New York, and is pursuing a doctorate in education at the NYU Steinhardt School of Education. In 2016, Jamie received the prestigious Empire State Excellence in Teaching Award from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. He was also a runner-up for the 2018 Tony Awards high school teacher of the year.
Dr. Jason Price currently serves as the Senior Lecturer (Professor) at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, where he has earned a reputation as an esteemed theatre scholar. Jason published the well-received book, Modern Popular Theatre. He has also published Contemporary Theatre Review, Comedy Studies, Popular Entertainment Studies, and Studies in Theatre and Performance.
For more information, contact Visual & Performing Arts at 299-8283.
Guest Lectures schedule
Animating ARchives, Dr. Jason Price
FRank Sinatra SChool, Jamie Price
Geekfest is my favorite local comic con and this year is its 10 Year Anniversary. Our first Geekfest was back in 2012. All we did was show up, meet Peter Mayhew, and go see Jason's panel on "Intro to Cosplay", but we were hooked. I became a presenter the very next year and a costume contest judge the following year and I've been doing it ever since. I have 13 of these badges in my collection now.
First and foremost, Geekfest is a wonderful opportunity for me to recruit theatre majors for MCC. I have a table set up every year in the hopes of finding potential students and luring them to my school with scholarship money. I met two seniors and two freshman this year who are very interested in coming to school with me. The MCC theatre department has a Facebook page that you can like and follow to get all the latest info about our upcoming productions.
New for this year I was able to tell everyone about the McLennan Alumni Cosplayers group that I started this summer. Right now we are made up of 12 former students from the last 23 years of my teaching who are into cosplay. We meet in my costume shop on Wednesday evenings and help each other out with our costumes. This is the first event that we have appeared at and only 6 of us managed to attend, but that's OK. We're brand new and it was our first ever convention together. We have bigger and better things in the works for next time. We have a Facebook page that you can like and follow to get all the latest info on our next cosplays.
I did two panels. This one is "Where's My Supersuit? Part 2 Supervillains". Catwoman presented this panel.
Sunday I presented "How to Cosplay" as Squirrel Girl. You can view both of them on my website under Presentations.
Lauren Knowlton's Moveable wings workshop
Lauren has won trophies for her Hawkgirl and Maleficent wings that she entered in our costume contest in 2017 and 2016. This year she judged the Kids' Costume Contest and presented a panel on how to make moveable wings. She took her audience through the process step by step starting with Maleficent and moving on through two different builds of Hawkgirl.
Besides recruiting and doing panels, my main job for Geekfest is to help judge the costume contest. You can pre-register online or sign up on site. This is my fourth year to be a judge. The contest is run like a well-oiled machine. Jason Sanchez is the head of the committee as well as Judge #1. I am Judge #2. We get guest cosplayers to fill in Judge #3-#5 depending on how many Cosplay guests are in attendance. The two amazingly organized folks who do all the form generation, spreadsheets, data entry, tabulation of scores, and man the registration table are William Priest and Lindsey Packett.
Our special guest, Miss Cynthia Lee Fontaine, did a special performance to get our costume contest started and then also helped MC the contest. She was wonderful to work with and made the contest so much fun!
This is Lindsey showing off our trophies for the contest. She is cosplaying Francine Smith from American Dad. Below is a photo of our wonderful Costume Contest Committee.
From left to right are: Brice Garcia as Elizabeth Swann, Kathleen Laundy as Batgirl, William Priest as Quail Man, Jason Sanchez as Sailor Uranus, Lindsey Packett as Jem and guest MC Miss Cynthia Lee Fontaine.
Here's all the winners in a giant group photo!
cOSTUME cASUAL CONTESTANTS
We had 33 entries in this category. Most unusually this year we had ties for all the places. I'm not sure about the order, so here are just the characters who won.
Frank Zapp as The Joker
Nikita Tomlin as Officer Judy Hopps
Kori Camp as Negasonic Teenage Warhead
Izabel Weaver as Rose Quartz from Steven Universe
Jacob Fonseca as Jason Todd "Red Hood"
Terrence Moon as Eternal Sailor Moon
dUOS AND gROUPS CONSTESTANTS
We only had three entries in this category so they all won trophies.
1st Place: William, Nick, and Koa as Halo
2nd Place: Jaylon and Val as Howl and Sophie
3rd Place: Mia, Mariah, Allie, Mika as My Hero Academia
We had 10 entries in this category and almost half of them won trophies for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, as well as Judge's Choice and Best in Show.
Best in Show: Valerie Marten-Ellis as Fiona from Borderlands
Judge's Choice: Kayla Robertson-Jones as Okoye from Black Panther
1st Place: Allysa Garcia as Maki Nishikino
2nd Place: Rhiannon Schlicheiser as Dr. Strange
3rd Place: Mary Ann Mervin as Neopolitan
pROPS AND aRMOUR cONTESTANTS
We had six entries and awarded three trophies.
1st Place: Reina Webly as Queen Vexus
2nd Place: Caitlyn Victory as Garyl
3rd Place: Taia Mitchell as Inuyasha
Geekfest's Got Talent
Here's our MC and contest chair Jason Sanchez.
And the rest of the committee.
We had 15 entries for our talent competition. Here are the winners:
1st place: Rosalie for her Whitney Houston song.
2nd place: Emily for her Harry Potter dramatic reading.
3rd place: Duo Lip Sync of "Allstar" by Smashmouth.
This year we had all kinds of talented people participate: several singers, dancers, and musicians. Plus an impressionist, an actor, a belly dancer, and a roller skater!
Kids' Costume Contest
Captain Jack Sparrow and Anna from Frozen judged the Kids' Contest.
Here's the winner's circle. Our friends' daughter Evie won 2nd place showing off her Supergirl costume.
The costume committee did a different cosplay every day of the event. We also took photos of other cosplays that we loved.
Next year, CTC is renaming Geekfest to Epically Geeky Expo. Here's the new logo.
To date, Batman has the largest Rogue's Gallery on film. The original gangsters made famous in the 1966 movie were Joker, Catwoman, Penguin and Riddler, but Batman also fought Scarecrow and Two Face in the 1940's. In the 50's Deadshot and Mr. Freeze were introduced. In the 60's we got Poison Ivy, followed by Ra's Al Ghul in the 70's, Killer Croc in the 80's, and Bane and Harley Quinn in the 90's. These villains make up the complete Rogue's Gallery on film.
1966 Batman Villians
"A Visual Guide to all 37 Villians in the Batman TV Series"
By Scott Neumyer
Yes, in the three seasons of the original TV series, there were 37 different villains. I'm not going to bother covering all of them, just the ones who had more than one appearance. Some Villains were created just for the TV show. Of those, Egghead and Bookworm are my personal favorites.
Vincent Price as Egghead and Roddy McDowell as Bookworm.
For the purposes of this blog, I'm going to discuss the 13 most iconic Batman Villains represented in TV and film: Joker, Catwoman, Scarecrow, Penguin, Two Face, Riddler, Deadshot, Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy, Ra's al Ghul, Killer Croc, Harley Quinn, and Bane.
First appearance: Batman #1, April 1940.
The Joker was created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, and Jerry Robinson. The inspiration for The Joker was Bill Finger's image of Conrad Veidt as Gwynplaine (a man with a disfigured face) in the 1928 movie The Man Who Laughs. Jerry Robinson created a playing card sketch in 1940 based on the photo of Veidt.
Left:"Conrad Veidt". The Man Who Laughs.
Right: "Joker Concept Sketch". Jerry Robinson.
The Joker is a criminal mastermind; a psychopath with a warped, sadistic sense of humor. He's an expert at chemical engineering. The Joker is responsible for the murder of Robin #2 Jason Todd, and the paralysis of Barbara Gordon. He is Batman's Arch Nemesis.
1966 Classic TV Series
Cesar Romero as the Joker, costume designed by Pat Barto, makeup by Ben Nye, and hair by Margaret Donovan.
Compared to the comic book original, 60's Joker's suit is pink rather than purple with a matching pink vest, rather than an orange one and matching pink gloves, instead of purple ones. They did put the pinstripes on the pants, but original Joker had pinstripes on the jacket as well. The signature makeup and hair is correct: green hair, white makeup, red overlarge smile. Cesar Romero didn't shave off his mustache for filming, so they just put the clown white right over it.
1989 BAtman: The Movie
Bob Ringwood concept art for The Joker.
According to Bob Ringwood, all the clothes were inspired by 1940's gangster styles.
Interview with Bob Ringwood:
"The concept behind the Joker costume is that it took Jack Nicholson's style and enhanced it. "He adores clothes," Ringwood said, "So all we did was just re-interpret the clothes that the Joker wears in the drawings to work with Nicholson's personality. To do clothes with him is a joy ride, really, because he just loves them. He is really with you and he's suggesting things and inventing things and doing things. He's wonderful."
Compared to the 1966 TV series, these four Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher films are even more colorful and saturated, with really overblown production design all around. To fit in with that world, Bob used a variety of color on the Joker costume. Jack's Joker suit is purple, but they've switched the colors of the vest and the shirt from the comic book costume. Instead of pinstripe pants, Jack wears plaid pants. The fabrics used on his shirt, vest, and cravat are very shiny and make the center of his body pop to reflect more light on his face. The surrounding fabrics are matte and absorb light. His coat is wool, wool felt hat, and suede gloves, leather shoes with built in spats.
Nick Dudman designed the Joker makeup. In this movie we see him using makeup to hide his chemically bleached white skin so he doesn't look so ghoulish at the museum with Vicky Vale. Plus Bob has traded in the fedora for a beret to make him seem more artsy.
2002 Birds of Prey
The only two episodes that Joker appears in references the events of The Killing Joke by Alan Moore, in which Joker shoots Barbara Gordon, paralyzing her and forcing her to continue her crime fighting from a wheelchair as Oracle.
Roger Stoneburner resembles The Killing Joke Joker, but his costume resembles the Jack Nicholson costume: purple suit, orange shirt, green tie.
Roger Stoneburner played the Joker in the pilot episode (Mark Hamill did the voice). His costume was designed by Chris Karvonides-Dushenko and Sara Markowitz.
2008 The Dark KNight
Early Joker Concept Art on display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
Interview with Lindy Hemming:
"What we were searching for at the very beginning of how to do this Joker, were images. I was looking through images of people who might have dressed like that in the pop world and the fashion world. You can imagine Vivienne Westwood meets Johnny Rotten, Sid Vicious, Pete Doherty. You think of all those people who dress themselves up and are very interested in their appearance — and then we added into it the life of him. So whatever it is that's wrong with him — made him be like this — means he doesn't care about himself at all, really. He's very sweaty and he probably doesn't have a proper home. We were trying to make him sort of a... I don't want to say vagrant... But a back-story for him that he really doesn't look after himself."
"The idea was to create someone, as you can see with these different sketches, who would dress so not because he is a clown, but rather because he's more like an eccentric modern punk, a bit like Keith Richards, far from the usual versions of the character. I looked at what Alexander McQueen was doing, for example. His hair is green because his dye messed up and turned green for no reason. All this was to make him modern and not just the caricature of a clown. In fact, actually making the costumes wasn’t that difficult, but visualizing them was. He’s a kind of dandy: the leather shoes look dandy, but they go up a bit at the tip. It's subtle, but we can see the clownish side right there."
Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight. designed by Lindy Hemming.
Heath's Joker wears a long purple coat, purple, pin-striped pants, a hexagonal patterned purple dress shirt, green vest and tie, multi-colored socks, with brown leather shoes. His makeup continues the tradition of white skin, green hair, red over-large smile.
Interview with Lindy Hemming:
"The Joker's shoes are from Milan and were selected by the costume designer because they had an upward swoop at the toe, which she thought was reminiscent of clown shoes. His tie was fashioned from a fabric that was specially woven to Hemming's specifications by Turnbull & Asser, a London-based clothier better known for dressing British royalty and the like. "Heath wanted it to be thin, so it's a '60s tie but in a Turnbull & Asser fabric. I dare say it's the weirdest tie that Turnbull & Asser has ever made," Hemming laughs.
"When Heath came in and we showed him all the bits and pieces of the costume, he thought it was fantastically original and just went for it."
Joker Costume on Display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
Joker Makeup was designed by Peter Robb-King. John Caglioni Jr. was Heath's makeup artist.
Peter Robb-King on the Joker makeup:
"The Joker's make-up was also a departure from past incarnations of the character. While he retains an allusion to his familiar white-faced, sneering visage, his make-up for The Dark Knight was intended to give him a more frenetic look that also lends to its shock value. The Joker's face is covered in a white pancake that is cracked and runny in places. His eyes are thickly rimmed in black, and a sloppy red grin is painted on, extending from his mouth to his cheeks but not quite masking the terrible scars beneath. His hair is a more subtle, but still noticeable, shade of green.
Make-up and hair designer Peter Robb-King remarks, "Clearly, there was a perception in the audience's mind of what The Joker would look like, but we wanted to get under the skin, so to speak, of what this character represents in this story. He is someone who has been damaged in every sense of the word, so it was important that we create a look that was not, forgive the pun, 'jokey.'"
Heath Ledger's make-up artist, John Caglione, Jr., calls the application of the actor's make-up "a dance." He describes, "Heath would scrunch up his face in specific expressions, raising his forehead and squinting his eyes, and I would paint on the white over his facial contortions. This technique created textures and expressions that just painting the face a flat white would not. Then I used black make-up around Heath's eyes while he held them closed very tight, which created consistent facial textures. After the black was on, I sprayed water over his eyes, and he would squeeze his eyes and shake his head, and all that black drippy, smudgy stuff would happen."
The Joker's make-up also represents a revolutionary advancement in the application of prosthetics, developed and executed by prosthetic supervisor Conor O'Sullivan and prosthetic make-up artist Robert Trenton. "They used a brand new silicone-based process that enables the prosthetics to be laid on the skin in such a way that it's seamless," Robb-King describes. "It's absolutely amazing because you can put a camera right up to the face--even an IMAX camera--and there are no issues."
O'Sullivan reveals, "It took us about two years to develop the technology, but after a few glitches, we hit on it. We are now able to produce silicone pieces that are applied directly to the skin. And it blends with the skin perfectly; if you didn't know it was there, you would have a hard time seeing anything."
In addition, the new process cut the application time to a fraction of what was needed in the past. O'Sullivan confirms, "The Joker prosthetics would previously have taken a good three to four hours. Instead they took about 25 minutes and looked far superior, which was great."
Contractually, Jerome is not the Joker, however, he's got everything but the name and the green hair. That's why Jerome is a ginger and wears an orange jacket instead of the purple. DC is reserving all Joker characters for the big screen so no small screens can use the name.
Cameron Monaghan as Jerome Valeska, designed by Lisa Padovani.Prosthetics Makeup designer David Presto
2016 Suicide Squad
Left: Joker graphic novel, 2008 written by Brian Azzarello and Illustrated by Lee Bermejo.
Right: Joker Concept Art on display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
"They're all wearing Versace and Balmain and all of that. David wanted that world. When we go into this club scene in his and Harley's world, they're not the only freaks in there. There's this high end, almost like a Studio 54 thing. It's like everyone's [****]ed up in this world and there's a normality to it. There's that beautiful book which actually i based some of the jester stuff we were playing around with."
Jared Leto in Suicide Squad, designed by Kate Hawley.
Joker is wearing a purple alligator coat, Arkham Asylum pants, a lot of tattoos some of which Harley Quinn is responsible for, and a cane. Hawley teased that the Joker graphic novel was the inspiration.
Alessandro Bertolazzi designed the hair and makeup for this film. Rob Coutts designed the tattoos.
"Joker is the guy with the green hair. This is what I knew. Then I started looking around, and I saw Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson, and everything else. I wanted to do something that was not the same, and Warner Bros. said, "OK, do your Joker." Usually with a big movie studio, people suggest things, have an opinion or give me guidance. With this, nothing!
They give me Jared Leto, a guy with hair and a long beard. A month before starting, I studied The Man Who Laughs, the 1928 film from which the Joker was inspired. It's so beautiful.
I ask David, "Who is this guy? What is his story?" David says to me, "He's also a poet." He's in love. It's a sick love, but still love. I tried to find something to make him super scary, but at the same time, a romantic. I always loved that contrast. I want a guy who is a poet, a romantic, and a devil all at the same time. He is completely sick.
Then we start painting in the face. And we do the skin. We work a lot on the skin, because the skin is the most important. I wanted it to look like a really dirty, really sick. It's three hours of makeup, with six or seven layers. With the pale skin and the veins and a wound — I make it dirty. He's a guy who hasn't taken a shower in forever. This is The Joker.
Then he needs something else. David said, "Why don't we give him a scar?" That's interesting. Then I decided to do seven scars. This guy is completely crazy — I imagine him in front of the mirror in the morning, where he never brushes his teeth, but instead he might take a blade and he cuts his face. Just for fun.
This is my process.
During the shoot, every day, every single shot, we changed something. I have more details or I have less, depending on the moment.
What was incredible, Warner Bros. and DC Comics are obsessed about everything, but they never asked me to change anything in my makeup. Not one single thing. They let me do everything I wanted.
Jared had to be completely in connection with me. Jared was amazing. We had a special makeup department only for Jared. When he arrived in the morning, he'd come straight to the makeup department without seeing anyone else and we'd start the process of the transformation. The Joker's part of the film, it's like another movie inside Suicide Squad. So we decided to keep him completely separate. He had the whole makeup department and it was just me and him alone for three hours.
It started in silence. During this process he slowly, slowly he started to act like the Joker. And then … "Oh my god!" He becomes the Joker for real.
For a month, Jared had no contact with any actors except as the Joker. You know how actors go to the lounge and get coffee? Not Jared. Never. He was the Joker, 100 percent. Margot Robbie and everyone saw him only as the Joker for the whole shooting. This makes the difference.
People look at me and say, "Oh my God. It must have been so tough for you." No. It was amazing. Because I made the Joker."
First appearance: Batman #1 June 1940.
Catwoman was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Her real name is Selina Kyle. She is a jewel-thief and has a love/hate relationship with Batman.
Cover of Catwoman: Nine Lives of a Feline Fatale (2003), showing Catwoman's various costumes throughout the years. Art by Brian Bolland.
1966 The Classic Series
There were three women who played Catwoman in the Batman TV Series: Julie Newmar did the first season, but couldn't do the movie, so Lee Meriwether stepped into the role for a one-off. Newmar came back for Season 2. Then Eartha Kitt took over for Season 3. Pat Barto made all of the Catwoman suits from lurex. It was the height of technology infusing a stretch knit with a metallic fiber overlay.
Designed by Pat Barto.
1992 Batman Returns
Michelle Pfeiffer played Selina Kyle in Batman Returns, designed by Bob Ringwood. Her suit was made from latex.
Interview with Mary Vogt:
"Tim is a very visual director who's involved in everything, including costumes. As an artist, he's able to provide sketches of his basic idea, and gives you the freedom to take off from there.
In the plot of Batman Returns, Selina Kyle makes her Catwoman costume herself after she's been brought back from the dead by a coterie of cats. As a result, Catwoman's suit has large, visible white stitches to reveal its homemade origins, becoming more ragged and torn as the film progresses. These ragged stitches are also intended to function as a visual suggestion that Selina has been sawn back together again in an act of physical regeneration.
It's like she's wearing black glass, and with Michelle Pfeiffer in it, the suit looks like a beautiful sort of dark sculpture.''
Halle Berry played Catwoman in her stand alone movie, designed by Angus Strathie.
He designed a new silicone fabric for part of her suit. The rest was leather. Halle's suit bared way more skin than previous suits.
2012 DArk Knight Rises
Anne Hathaway played Catwoman for Dark Knight Rises, designed by Lindy Hemming.
"The catsuit worn by Anne Hathaway is actually a two-piece, separated by a low slung, fitted utility belt; her serrated heels double as weapons. The suit’s outer material is polyurethane coated Spandex with an embossed hexagonal pattern. Catwoman iconography is referenced subtly by night vision goggles (also functioning as a jeweller’s loupe) that flip up to form ‘ears’ when not in use."
2014 Gotham TV Series
Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman in Gotham designed by Lisa Padovani.
“Even though it’s not a period piece, per se, it’s a concept piece, so everything is very particular,” Padovani says, admitting she tries to produce the majority of the show’s costumes in-house. For inspiration, Padovani focused on the “timelessness” of the story. “I took the idea of the original graphic novels mixed with elements of ‘Blade Runner.’ And punk rock actually played a big part in it,” she notes.
First appearance: World's Finest Comics #3 September, 1941.
Scarecrow was created by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson, and Bob Kane. His real name is Dr. Jonathan Crane. He is an ex-Professor of Psychology who used experimental drugs and psychological tactics to exploit the fears and phobias of his victims.
2005 Batman Begins
Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow in Batman Begins, designed by Lindy Hemming.
Charlie Tahan played Dr. Jonathan Crane in Season 1 of Gotham, designed by Lisa Padovani.
Penguin was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. The inspiration for Penguin was the advertising mascot of Kool cigarettes--an Emperor penguin in a top hat and cane. Penguin's real name is Oswald Cobblepot. He owns a nightclub called the Iceberg Lounge which is a front for his criminal activity. He uses high tech umbrellas as weapons. Unlike other villains, Penguin is sane and in control of his actions.
Original Concept art for Penguin, 1940.
First appearance: Batman #58, December 1941, but he didn't make the cover. Here's a later issue.
1966 Classic TV Series
Burgess Meredith played Penguin in the TV Series. This costume is very accurate to the comic. Black tailcoat, pinstriped pants, white shirt, purple top hat and bow tie, white gloves, black shoes and white spats. He had a variety of specialty umbrellas for all his Bat-fighting needs.
1992 Batman Returns
Danny Devito played Penguin in Batman Returns, designed by Bob Ringwood.
Interview with Bob Ringwood:
"For the Penguin, costume designers Ringwood and Vogt not only had to develop original costumes, but also the character's body shape, which differs radically from that of Danny DeVito's. They created a body 'shell' for DeVito to wear, and for his actual wardrobe, they chose a strange Victorian look that's markedly different from the tuxedo of the comic book representation. Bob Ringwood commented: ''It's almost like something out of Charles Dickens.''
Stan Winston designed The Penguin's makeup. Greg Cannom did Penguin's hands. Ve Neil was the makeup supervisor.
Robin Lord Taylor played Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin on Gotham, designed by Lisa Padovani.
"There have been so many different renditions of The Penguin, I tried not to be too stuck on what has already been done and tried to look at his character in a fresh way. I am a big believer in mixing up eras and that’s what I did with his costume- he’s a complete custom build except for some accessories. He wears a one-button tux jacket influenced by the ‘20s, a vest based on a teens tux vest, a tux shirt based on a ‘70s model and a cross over tie that was based on early ‘60s rock and roll groups from England. I am not afraid to use color so his jacket lapels are an acid black/green with a reptile green vest. Purple was also a color we used on him in the vests and bow ties. The idea was to show a progression of his look- he is still not completely The Penguin everyone knows. He’s a very odd character with a painful past, so he needed to look unusual and individual without sticking out as a complete freak. That will come later."
First appearance: Detective Comics #66 August, 1942.
Two Face was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. His real name is Harvey Dent and he was Gotham's District Attorney. He was hideously scarred on the left side of his face during a criminal trial by a mob boss who threw acid on him, which made him insane. He is obsessed with the duality of good and evil and this he makes all decisions by flipping his two-headed coin, which was also scarred by the acid on one side.
1989: Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent in Batman, designed by Bob Ringwood, and was supposed to continue in the role and become Two Face in Batman Returns except that didn't happen, because Joel Schumacher took over the production and cast Tommy Lee Jones instead. We finally did get a Billy Dee Williams Two Face in 2017's Lego Batman.
1995 Batman Forever
Tommy Lee Jones played Two Face in Batman Forever designed by Bob Ringwood and Ingrid Ferrin.
He had two suits. One business and one formal.
His makeup was designed by Rick Baker. Ve Neil was the makeup artist.
2008 THe Dark Knight
Aaron Eckhart played Harvey Dent aka Two Face in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight designed by Lindy Hemming.
Makeup designed by Peter Robb-King.
Nicholas D'Agosto played Harvey Dent aka Two Face in Gotham designed by Lisa Padovani. We have yet to see Harvey turn into Two Face on the show.
First appearance: Batman #140 October, 1948.
The Riddler was created by Bil Finger and Dick Sprang. His real name is Edward Nygma. He is a criminal mastermind and takes delight in leaving clues in the form of riddles or puzzles for Batman to solve.
1966 Classic TV Series
Frank Gorshin played The Riddler in the TV series, designed by Pat Barto. He had two costumes: The suit when he was plotting and the unitard when he was out committing crimes.
John Astin stepped into the role for two episodes, but he's clearly wearing the same costume.
1995 Batman Forever
Jim Carey played The Riddler in Batman Forever, designed by Bob Ringwood and Ingrid Ferrin. Carey had three different costumes: one sequined suit and two different unitards. The suit lit up so he could go jogging at night.
Rick Baker did the makeup and Ve Neil was the key makeup artist.
Cory Michael Smith played Edward Nygma aka The Riddler in Gotham designed by Lisa Padovani and John Glaser.
First appearance: Batman #59 June, 1950.
1977: Detective Comics #474 Deadshot got a costume makeover.
Deadshot was created by David Vern Reed, Lew Schwartz, and Bob Kane. His real name is Floyd Lawton. He is a deadly assassin and never misses his shot.
Bradley Stryker played Floyd Lawton on the Smallville TV Series in Season 10, designed by Caroline Cranstoun and Melanie Williams.
Michael Rowe played Deadshot on the Arrow TV Series, designed by Colleen Atwood and Maya Mani.
Will Smith played Deadshot in Suicide Squad, designed by Kate Hawley. This is the first on screen design to even come close to getting Deadshot's costume right. They eye-piece and his mask are spot on, She's turned his red outer garment into an undersuit and put tactical, black Kevlar armor over it, essentially replacing all the white areas in the costume with black. This is a good transition from page to stage, in my opinion. I feel like Hawley looked at what Marvel had done with Falcon and went down that path.
First appearance: Batman #121 February, 1959.
Mr. Freeze was created by Dave Wood and Sheldon Modoff. His real name is Dr. Victor Fries and originally he was called Mr. Zero. He is a cryogenics expert who was involved in a lab accident while attempting to cure his terminally ill wife Nora. The disaster lowered his body temperature so much that he must wear a cryogenic suit to survive. He uses a freeze ray gun freezes his victims solid. When he made his first appearance on the TV series, the producers renamed him Mr. Freeze. At that point his costume in the comics was changed to be more in line with the TV show costume.
1966 Classic TV Series
There were three actors who played Mr. Freeze--George Sanders in the 1st season, Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach in the 2nd Season, all designed by Pat Barto.
Sanders' costume looked more like an astronaut suit. Otto gets orange eyebrows, and no hair. He wears the same grey jumpsuit and silver gloves, but they changed the helmet and gave it dials. Eli gets grey hair and eyebrows. Because all three actors who played Mr. Freeze used German/Austrian accents, Mr. Freeze became fixed in the public's mind as being Eastern European, which is why it should be no surprise that Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast as Mr. Freeze thirty years later.
1997 Batman and Robin
Arnold Schwarzenegger played Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin, designed by Ingrid Ferrin and Robert Turturice. Arnold had two costumes: his supersuit which looked a lot like his Terminator body from 1984, and a smoking jacket. His Mr. Freeze suit was powered by diamonds which apparently made it glow. It was fabricated by Terry English. They made four suits out of aluminium. It weighed 45 lbs and made Arnold claustrophobic. Each suit was powered by a back pack and had 2500 LEDs. In the first action sequence it also had wings.
Arnold's costume is a major improvement over the 1966 version, although it's so high tech that it looks a lot like Tron and Terminator had a baby and now it's a teenager that has a Playstation.
I have a particular fondness for this costume. The silver/blue fabrics are beautiful and the pajama pants have bears on them. Together with the polar bear slippers, and the fact that he's watching Mr. Snow Miser on all his TVs is hilarious!
His makeup application took 3 hours. He wore a bald cap and opalescent contact lenses. Jeff Dawn was the makeup artist.
Nathan Darrow played Mr. Freeze in Gotham designed by Lisa Pardoni and John Glaser.
Ra's al Ghul
First appearance: Batman #232 June, 1971.
Ra's Al Ghul was created by Julius Schwartz, Denis O'Neil, and Neal Adams. His name means "The Head of the Ghoul" or "Cheif Demon". He is the head of the League of Assassins. His daughter Talia has a son with Batman, Damian Wayne.
2005 Batman Begins
Liam Neeson played Ra's al Ghul in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, designed by Lindy Hemming.
Peter Robb-King designed makeup and hair for this film.
Matt Nable plays him in Arrow, designed by Colleen Camp and Maya Mani.
Alexander Siddig played Ra's al Ghul in Gotham designed by Lisa Padovani and John Glaser.
First appearance: Batman #181 June, 1966
Poison Ivy was created by Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff. Her real name is Pamela Lillian Isley. She's a botanist obsessed with protecting endangered species and is a notorious eco-terrorist using plant toxins and mind controlling pheromones. She is sometimes romantically linked with both Batman and Harley Quinn.
1966 classic TV Series
Although the TV series premiered in 1966, the same year that Poison Ivy made her debut, and ran for three seasons and a movie, Poison Ivy did not make it onto the small screen. It's a shame. The closest we got was Glynis Johns playing Lady Penelope Peasoup for three episodes.
1997 Batman and Robin
Uma Thurman played Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin, designed by Ingrid Ferrin and Robert Turturice. Uma gets three different Poison Ivy costumes and a lovely red wig. Her leaf eyebrows are prosthetics, however she only wears them with the first two costumes.
I'm not sure why they didn't continue and give her another set for her third costume. I would have gone with red and black.
Clare Foley, Maggie Geha, and Peyton List appear as Ivy "Pamela" Pepper aka Poison Ivy in Gotham, designed by Lisa Padovani and John Glaser.
"Ivy Pepper's look was inspired by punk rock god Johnny Rotten.
"I'm personally very inspired by early punk and new wave and rock and roll, and it's very much a part of my life, and how I think, and how I dress, and how I live every day. So I saw the actress that they hired, and iI was happy to see that she was a real redhead. And Johnny Rotten just immediately came to mind."
She saw the spirit of Johnny Rotten in the character.
"I just thought, this is a street urchin that runs wild, does whatever she wants, and has got this edge to her. And I thought, let's put the holey sweaters on her that Johnny used to wear, and let's mess her hair up, and just make her look like an anarchist. So, she loved it. Everybody else seems to have loved it, so I think yeah, he was a great role model for her."
Maggie Geha's costumes are in a range of green high fashion clothing and accessories.
Peyton took over from Maggie Geha at the midseason break and appeared in her first episode in March without red hair. However, this photo was released as a tease for its upcoming 5th and final season in 2019.
Harley's first appearance was on Batman: the animated Series in 1992. She was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. Her real name is Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel. She is a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum and falls in love with The Joker. They have an abusive love/hate relationship.
It wasn't until the next year that she appeared in the comic book.
Batman Adventures #12 August, 1993.
In the New 52, Harley's origin story was ret-conned and they had Joker throw her in to the same vat of acid that bleached his skin and turned his hair green.
2002 Birds of Prey
2002: Mia Sara played Harley Quinn on the Birds of Prey TV series, designed by Chrisi Karvonides-Dushenko and Sara Markowitz.
2016 Suicide Squad
Harley Quinn concept art on display at DC Experience London, 2018.
Margot Robbie played Harley in Suicide Squad, designed by Kate Hawley. Rob Coutts designed Harley's tattoos.
Harley Quinn Costume on display at DC Experience London, 2018
His first appearance: Detective Comics #523 February, 1983.
Killer Croc's real name is Waylon Jones, he was a side show wrestler. He has a rare genetic condition that gives his skin a crocodile-like appearance. He is a member of the Suicide Squad and is the lover of Enchantress.
2016 Suicide Squad
Concept Art on display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje played Killer Croc in his only film appearance to date in Suicide Squad Designed by Kate Hawley.
Alessandro Bertolazzi was the makeup and hair designer on the film. Greg Nicotero was the Killer Croc makeup supervisor. KNB EFX Group were the prosthetics manufacturer for Killer Croc. Sean Sansom was Adewale's makeup artist.
First appearance: Vengeance of Bane #1 January, 1993.
Bane was created by Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan. Bane spent his childhood in prison paying for his father's crimes. He received a classical education from a Jesuit priest while imprisoned and can speak Spanish, English, Portuguese and Latin. He is super strong and knows martial arts. He was the victim of an experimental drug which increased his physical strength but he must inhale it every 12 hours or suffer debilitating side-effects, hence the gas mask he wears. He is the only supervillain to have broken Batman.
1997 Batman and Robin
Jeep Swenson plays Bane in Batman and Robin. designed by Ingrid Ferrin and Robert Turturice. His costume is inspired by the stereotypical Luchador wrestling costume. Jeep was 6'4" and weighed over 400 lbs. He had been a professional wrestler before he was cast as Bane, unfortunately, he died right after the movie was released.
I'm not sure where the idea for green skin came from, other than he was created in Poison Ivy's lab. But he looks a lot like the Hulk in a mask.
2014 DArk Knight Rises
Bane Concept Art on display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
Tom Hardy plays Bane in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Rises designed by Lindy Hemming.
"The padded vest was made as it would have been in the story, from a collection of surplus tent canvas, old webbing belts, metal plates from the door of a jeep, military meshes etc., and was designed to be worn both with and without the leather and canvas back support belt, which Bane needs due to his torture in prison as a child/teenager. These pieces were also needed in exactly identical multiples, and were a very important part of achieving his extreme silhouette; tinkering with his proportions to help make him look more bulky, animalistic and aggressive. Bane’s costume is intended to resemble a hotchpotch of influences from different parts of the world he has visited as a mercenary. The mask’s design is intentionally animalistic but functional; it masks his identity but also keeps him alive by pumping a painkilling gas into his body. It was digitally mapped to Tom Hardy’s face as a prosthetic but intended to look metal. It had to appear completely different to Batman’s cowl and could not be black."
Bane Costume on display at the DC Experience London, 2018.
Interviews with Designers
A Closer Look: The Classic Batman TV Costumes
Reinventing the Batsuit for the Modern Era
Masterful Batman 1989 Costume Concept Art by Bob Ringwood
Catwoman's Suit's a Ripper
Lindy Hemming on The Dark Knight Trilogy:
The Making of Heath Ledger's Joker
The Dark Knight: Ledger Takes the Joker to a Whole New Level
Making the Joker: Heath Ledger and Jared Leto's Makeup Artists on the Job of a Lifetime
Costume Designer Lindy Hemming Talks Catwoman, Redesigning Bane for Nolan's Universe, and More on the Set of the Dark Knight Rises
Costume Designer Lindy Hemming Talks in Detail about her work on the Film
We Chatted to Batman's Costume Designer, The Woman who Inspired a Generation
Birds of Prey:
Retro Review: Birds of Prey
Gotham's Costume Designer Lisa Padovani Describes Her Process
Gotham Costume Designer Lisa Padovani Create Villainy With Style
Gotham Costume Design Origins
Gotham costume designer Lisa Padovani is totally fine with being called a control freak
Esquire Interview, Aug. 2, 2018
Making the Joker: Heath Ledger and Jared Leto's Makeup Artists on the Job of a Lifetime
Suicide's Squad Margot Robbie and Costume Designer Kate Hawley on Harley Quinn and Joker's Mad Love
Suicide Squad Joker influenced by Joker Graphic Novel
Joker's Tattoos Define the Character in Suicide Squad
We were so excited to make our annual pilgrimage to Kilgore for the fourth summer in a row. It's been a crazy summer and I almost waited too late to book our hotel and tickets. We ended up not being able to stay in our favorite hotel, Holiday Inn Express and ended up in Best Western instead. Best Western is much closer than Holiday Inn, but the breakfast isn't nearly as good and the rooms open to the outside which I don't like because there's too much noise from the street. Plus I really hate sweating on my walk down to breakfast every morning. For our seats, we ended having to get tickets on the padded bench for both shows Friday. The padding on the bench is adequate, but there's no more rake there and I'm so short already, that not having the extra height means I miss a lot of the stage due to the usually taller person sitting in front of me. Saturday our seats were much better. We had front row seats for the matinee and center seats in row G for the evening performance.
The costume designers for this season are Angelina Herin, returning for her third season with TSF. This year she designed 110 in the Shade and King John. Last year she designed Richard III and The Marvelous Wondrettes, the year before it was Henry V and Carousel. She is the professor of costume design at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
This is Christopher Metzger's first season with TSF and he designed Love's Labour's Lost and Tartuffe. Christopher is based in Brooklyn and is a member of Local USA 829. I have included a link to his website below.
The Tyler Morning Telegraph did an article on the costume department.
This year, the lobby display paid tribute to Val Winkelman who received her 30 year award from the Festival. Val has been managing the festival since 2008, but she used to be a costume designer, having designed 26 productions throughout her career for the festival. These costumes are from the early 2000s.
110 in the Shade
Costume design by Angelina Herin
I had never seen a production of this musical before, although I had seen The Rainmaker, once a long time ago. The script is interesting because the Sheriff, File, is revealed to be a divorced man (his wife left him) which is unusual for the time period. He's afraid to let anyone get close to him, not the town-folk and especially not any women-folk. The lead female role, Lizzy, is approaching spinster-hood even though she is a great home-maker, keeping house for her father and brothers. Her flaw is that she is both plain in appearance and honest to a fault in personality. Men don't like women who come right out and say what they're thinking so she's been unable to attract a husband, a fact that makes her family sad, but that ultimately her father is OK with. Better to be honest than fake. When a mysterious stranger, Starbuck, comes to town (a con-man who is supposed to make it rain) he is the first to find her attractive and show her how to see herself as such. When her brothers find out that she's gone off with Starbuck, her father stops them from rescuing her from making (in their opinion) the biggest "mistake of her life". Her father tells them that this may be the only time that she's happy with a man even if it only lasts one night. The attitude toward women in general and sex out of wedlock in particular are very unusual for a father to have in this time period, which is what makes this play much more interesting than Carousel (to use an example from last season) or Oklahoma!, or any other dust bowl era play.
Unfortunately, the Festival hasn't posted any photos of this show yet. I've inquired about it, so hopefully they'll post them soon. The costumes were typical 1930's fare. The town is in the middle of the drought so colors were faded and dusty. Starbuck was in equestrian pants, a pink, bibbed shirt with white cuffs and collars, worn with black accessories of a vest, riding boots, and bowler hat. He looks a bit like a circus ringmaster. Lizzie starts the show in a green suit and then changes into a white dress for the picnic. I bought the note cards again this year so I do have a few of Angelina's renderings of the costumes to show you.
Love's Labour's Lost
Costume design by Christopher Metzger
I had also never seen a production of LLL. Normally I'm upset when Shakespeare is moved to a more modern period because I miss the extravagant costuming, however, since I had nothing to compare it to, I did not mind the show being set in the 1920's jazz age. I felt that the music added a lot to the show and I didn't miss the play within a play element being replaced by a dance. One of the remarkable things about the casting at TSF is that so many of the actors play musical instruments. This production had it's own jazz combo with a piano, stand up bass, guitar, drum kit, trumpet, and saxophone. Only the pianist was a professional musician, rather than an actor.
The King and his boys get most of the costume attention for this show, changing costumes five times. They start the show in all white sweaters and pants looking like frat boys, then ditch the sweaters for white dinner jackets and bow ties, then ditch the white costumes for black tux pants and maroon smoking jackets, then green and red Russian "muscovite" jackets with black furry hats and fake beards as a disguise. They ditch the Russian disguises for the rest of the black tie, tux ensemble. The Princess and her girls only have two changes, cool colored day dresses which they change for evening gowns in the same color palette: baby blue, mint green, purple. The only other female character in the play is Jacquenetta, a "base, country wench" that the Spanish Don Armado is in love with. She is played in this version as a cabaret singer. I couldn't find any reason for her to be in the play other than to sing songs and be swooned over. Shakespeare probably doesn't have a reason either. However, her costume is deliciously flapper-esque: long bias cut pieces in various shades of pink with an oversized velvet coat in green with a pink floral design.
Because the boys are trying to trick the girls with their silly Russian disguises, the girls are supposed to don masks to fool the boys into wooing the wrong girls. The boys have given the girls tokens of their love (a brooch, bracelet, necklace, and gloves) that they expect the girls will wear and that's how they will identify them but the girls outwit them by trading the love tokens in order to tease them with their own words later. Unfortunately, the girls didn't have time to leave stage and change or add masks or anything that would have actually served the purpose of disguise. Instead they use the net veils on their cloche hats to hide their faces however, their very distinctive dresses were obvious clues as to who they really were. So that bit didn't work for me.
Photos by John Dodd
LLL Talk Back
The talk back we attended was for this show. In the previous years, the talkbacks had been held on campus in one of the two buildings right behind the theatre. This year the talkbacks had been moved off campus to a lovely little bookstore/coffee shop called The Coffee Cherry. They had just opened less than a year ago in what was once a rather large house. It just so happened that the morning of the talkback they were also having a book signing and the author was the father of the festival's choreographer, who played the Princess in LLL.
Matt introduced the panelists and told us a little bit about his approach to the script. LLL isn't nearly as produced these days as it was back in Shakespeare's day when the French people he was making fun of with the characters were well known by his English audiences. The other institution that Shakespeare was attacking was a recently formed School for Atheism, in which students were required to leave the company of women and were expected to hate Shakespeare. There are two characters who argue with each other and are endowed with the biggest use of language for language's sake that Matt cut from their production. Matt had two reasons for these cuts: there weren't enough actors to play two more characters and their arguments didn't contribute to the romantic comedy or satire that Matt felt were the most important attributes of the play.
Matt spoke about his idea to turn the play into a musical and replace the play within a play with a dance. Originally, he wanted one musician to do all of the songs for the whole show. An actor was given a contract early on to do just that, but the actor ended up turning it down probably due to being offered a better contract at another theatre. Once that happened, Matt had to scramble during casting to make another plan. Fortunately his wife Meagan is the casting director for the festival so while she was still in process Matt was able to let her know he needed actors who could also play instruments and that he was specifically looking for a bass, drums, guitar, trumpet, and sax. Luckily he got exactly what he wanted. The pianist, Arnold Sherman, had already been hired to be the music director for 110 in the Shade and was available to become the music director and play piano for LLL. Matt does not read music, so he would find the versions of the songs he wanted in the show and send them to Arnold and Arnold would write out the arrangements for the actors in his jazz combo. There were 16 songs in the show. The actor/musicians only had one rehearsal to incorporate their songs in to the show before they opened, which is insane to me. When we do musicals our orchestra has three rehearsals with the cast. So kudos to those actors!
Cadence Lamb, who played the Princess, was also the choreographer. She was told that she was being given actors who could move well, rather than dancers. She was not daunted because one of her past gigs was to choreograph elementary school children. She taught the cast the Charleston and the Lindy Hop and then let them improvise their own dancing to begin with. After that, she began to reign them in during the rehearsal process, when finally she gave each of them specific things she wanted them to do during various moments of the play.
Rick Higgenbotham told us that he used the Paul Meyer dialect tapes for his Spanish accent. The vocal coach for the festival, Jennifer Burke, then helped him figure out when and where to use less of it so that the audience could still understand all the words. There were certain words that Rick had chosen to mispronounce as a character choice and Jennifer helped him with that.
Then Matt opened it up to questions from the audience and someone asked about the budget for the festival. Matt said the budget is $760,000 annually which Kilgore College gives them up front and then the festival pays back at the end of the season. Of that, $500,000 is spent on staff, 75,000 is spent on the productions, $25,000 is spent on meals, and $8,000 is spent on travel. If you keeping track (and good at math) that leaves another $152,000 unaccounted for. Matt also mentioned that this year they began renting a warehouse to build all the scenery in so that the technicians aren't building outside in the heat, like they had been doing the last 32 years. So rental fees for the warehouse are coming out of the budget too. My guess is the rest of the budget is spent on a combination of housing, publicity, and administrative costs, which Matt didn't mention. Matt did mention that it saves the festival money if Matt and Megan don't act because they are Actor's Equity members, they must take a paycheck for acting, but since they are not members of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Union, they don't have to take a paycheck for directing.
Another thing that came up in conversation was the unexpected crisis of having to replace an actor at the last minute during a performance. Tim Sailer had been sick and was losing his voice after the shows began their run. He was cast in 3 of the 4 shows. During intermission of July 15th performance of Tartuffe, where he played Cleante, the SM told Matt that Tim had completely lost his voice and asked what was the protocol for replacing him. In 33 years of the Festival they had never cast any understudies (because they couldn't afford to hire extra actors) and in 33 years no actors had ever had to be replaced. However, the protocol was the Matt could cover for the male roles and Meagan could cover for the female roles, so as Matt was too big to fit into the Cleante costume, he went home, dressed in all black and came back to go on for Tim. Matt stood at the side of the stage and read all of Cleante's lines, while Tim wore the costume and did the acting and blocking. After they got through that show, Tim was put on vocal rest and luckily his voice healed before he had to perform LLL on Thursday afternoon, four days later.
Costume design by Christopher Metzger
I have designed Tartuffe twice in my career; once at UTEP and once at MCC, so I am very familiar with the show. This production was excellent in every way. I loved the costumes. Christopher kept his designs in the Cavalier period with corsets, hip rolls, petticoats, and cartridge pleating galore. Mdm. Pernelle was in black, Elmire was in gold, Marianne was in blue and pink, Cleante in purple, Damis is blue, and Orgon in brown and black stripes, Dorine in blue and brown stripes as his foil. Lots of prints on all the fabrics and a lot of contrasting fabrics in each costume. I love that.
Some things that this production did that I'd never seen before. When Orgon first gets home, Dorine undresses him, taking his hat first, then his jacket, then finally his boots which made for a funny bit her trying to pull them off. Then he changed into a lounging gown and matching hat with slippers that he wore for most of the rest of the show. Tartuffe wears a monk's robe throughout most of the show until he boldly kicks the family out of the house, then apparently goes shopping for some new threads and comes back resplendent in red and gold feathery finery complete with periwig and beauty patch. The shoes were the best bit, red with enormous gold buckles. The other interesting acting bit that I'd never seen before was Micah's choice to play Tartuffe as a con man who is ready to give up when he gets caught by Orgon in the table scene until he realizes that Orgon is so stupid he won't believe what he's seen with his own eyes. Then you can see Tartuffe getting bolder and really coming into his stride as he takes possession of the house. It's almost like he's shocked that he's evicted them, but also super pleased with himself that he came up with the idea, so pleased in fact, that he goes out and buys himself a fancy new outfit, all pretext of religious modesty gone.
Photos by John Dodd
Costume design by Angelina Herin
I had never seen a production of King John, much less designed it. I hadn't even read it before. In fact, the Festival had never staged King John in its entire 32 year history. In the Director's Notes, James Dean Palmer says that King John was very popular in Shakespeare's time but wasn't much done after 1900 and has since fallen into obscurity. "However, the story is finding a resurgence in the new millennium. Perhaps it's telling that a play about feeling powerless in a world of fickle and futile politics is finding current resonance....King John is a burning homage to the frustration and sheer absurdity of living in a broken political system"
If you're not familiar with the history of the English monarchy, Lion in Winter is a good place to start. King John picks up after Henry's death and Richard's disastrous reign. Richard died making his youngest brother John, his heir instead of Geoffrey's son, Arthur. Geoffrey died before Arthur was born. John is a man of 32, Arthur, a twelve year old boy. Hearing this news, Arthur's mother Constance, takes him to France to Phillip II, who is now king, with the intent of using the French forces to raise an army and take the English throne for Arthur. Phillip backs this plan because he intends to, in the resulting squabble, get all of France's territory back from England. Because France opposes John's Kingship, the French and English forces fight and in the fight Arthur is captured and taken back to the tower to be killed but instead falls to his death in an escape attempt. Constance, in her grief, tears out her hair and dies of a broken heart. John maintains the throne in spite of his nobles leaving him to back France. John is poisoned by the Cardinal sent from Rome to keep John in line. John dies and his son Henry III becomes king at the tender age of nine, three years younger than Arthur would have been had Richard made Arthur king.
There's two subplots. One involves Richard's bastard. IRL, Richard was homosexual and never had a legitimate heir, much less an illegitimate one, a fact Constance knew and was counting on to win the throne for her son so this bit is something Shakespeare completely made up. The bastard fights for John against France and in doing so, manages to kill Austria, then man who is blamed for killing The Lionheart and bragging about it by wearing Richard's lionskin cape around his neck ever since. IRL, Austria most certainly did not kill Richard, although he did hold him for ransom awhile in his dungeon during the crusades. The other subplot involves the peace treaty called for by the people of Angiers for the Dauphin Louis to marry Blanche, John's niece, in order to stop England and France demolishing their town in the fight. In the play Loius and Blanche are adults, but IRL they were 11 and 12. That's really all you need to know about the plot.
The costume design had a very Game of Thrones feel to it, specifically the House of Stark with all the layers and fur. All the men and most of the women were in long, lace-front wigs. The wig master for the production was Nicholas Jones, and the wig stylist was Ryan Sozzi. The armor appeared to be mostly leather pieces and John even begins the play in a crown made of black leather, which is both elegant and frightening. Later he dons what is supposed to be a black metal crown studded with red jewels. It too is beautiful and frightening. My guess is that it was 3D printed. John has a wonderful leather armor piece that looked like a cross between a corset and a girdle that he only wore for one scene and no one got a photo of it, so you'll just have to imagine how lovely it was. He spends most of the show in his soldier tabard of red and white with the lions passant and the rest of the show in one courtly gown or another. There was a lot of red and brown used on the English characters and a lot of blue used on the French, as it should be in any play about English history. Constance and Arthur were in pinks and purples;, the Cardinal in white and gold with the largest egg-shaped hat I've ever seen. I did some research on my own about that hat, because it's not the traditional shape or color (red) for a Cardinal's hat and I discovered that Innocent III didn't make an official decree dictating the Cardinals costume until after John died. So they may have worn all white with egg-shaped hats before then, as far as I know but I didn't bother doing any more research to find out.
Photos by John Dodd
The gift shop has new shirts this year. We both got new ones.
Seth is really into Justice League Dark right now, so Rob and I watched the movie before we went to GACC. There's exactly the right number and gender of characters for us: Seth really wants to be John Constantine, Rob really wants to be Swamp Thing, Sarah's going to be Zatanna, I'm going to be Black Orchid, and Sylvan's going to Deadman. As an added bonus, we already have most of this stuff.
We already own a London Fog trench coat, so I still need to Goodwill shop for him a white dress shirt, and some brown dress pants. Rob has tons of ties. He does need a new belt, though and new dress shoes. He's worn out his Joker dress shoes. Maybe something more hard wearing this time. I think it's funny that John Constantine cosplays are super hard to tell apart from Castiel cosplays these days. Castiel totally stole his look.
For Seth's birthday, I bought him pants, shirt, tie, and shoes. He still needs a belt. We need to do a fitting because the pants are unhemmed.
Fitting took place Tuesday night. The only things that fit are his shirt and tie. That's the problem with buying clothes for someone for a surprise. The pants are too small and the shoes are too big. so it's back to the Goodwill.
I got another pair of pants and now he just needs a pair of shoes. He says he's willlng to cut and bleach his hair, so we'll see how that goes when I remind him later on this month.
As you can see he did cut and bleach his hair. Halloween (yesterday) was the test run and everything seems to be fine. He still can't tie his own tie by himself and he doesn't understand that dress pants are supposed to be worn around his belly button and not down around his hip bones. But whatever. His tie is way too long in the photo. We didn't spike up his hair either, but we will.
total cost: $42.00 including hair cut and color.
Sarah already has the black tux jacket, white shirt, vest, gloves, and bow tie, and black top hat that we were going to use for her Penguin cosplay until I found a lavender one on Amazon. Instead of buying her a black leotard (which would make it extremely difficult for her to go to the bathroom) I'm going to use the black tux pants that came with the jacket for Penguin $33 from Amazon, and just cut them off into shorts. I ordered her black fishnets $7 from We Love Colors, and she already has black boots, they're just not above the knee. I could easily make her black boot covers that go above the knee, but I don't know that it's that important to me, especially when it only serves to overly sexualize the character and Sarah's 11. Then all she needs is a red carnation. Sarah says she's going to wear a wig rather than dye her hair, again.
Total cost: $41.00
I ordered the red unitard $56 and gloves $16 and extra fabric $18 from We Love Colors last night. It's going to take a couple of weeks to ship because they don't have the extra fabric in stock right now. I have white fabric for the D already. The problem will be when I wash it I don't want the red to turn the white pink, so I'll have to wash all the red first, before I add the D. Sylvan is totally willing to shave his head bald to do this. He hates having hair in the first place. I still need to order clown white makeup for him Mehron $12 from Amazon.
I ordered both clown white and a pair of red boots from Amazon yesterday. They'll be here tomorrow. This week I am patterning the collar, and a belt to help reign in his tummy, as well as the D. I have used craft foam to back the D and will attach with velcro like on Nightmare Nurse's cross. I am backing the collar and the front of the belt with fusible horsehair to add some stiffness. I bought him some red boots to share with Rob for his Ming costume. I found them on Amazon for $60. The collar has been a bitch. I have tried to pattern it three different ways to make it stand up, but because it's lycra and not a stiff fabric, it's both heavy and wimp and because I can't sew it to the costume and have sylvan still be able to get into it without a zipper, it's a real problem. It's not like an Elizabethan bodice that's already stiff and you can just run the boning down the back of the bodice and sew the whole thing down. He's got to be able to take it off and pee. I finally decided to make it with a pocket for the boning to go into the back of the unitard and have it snap into place, so that he can unsnap it before taking it off. I didn't finish it yesterday and today is Halloween so I have to get it done this afternoon. Yikes! We went to Target tonight and bought him some generic Spanx for $14 to help with his tummy.
I just barely finished before close of business yesterday and one of the snaps is in the wrong place. Oh well. It works just fine. We didn't do a test run last night for Halloween because it was cold and rainy and I didn't want him getting it wet and dirty before the con. He was fine with wearing his Luke Skywalker footie pajamas and handing out the candy to the neighborhood kids.
Total cost: $165
So I was going to be Black Orchid, but Rob likes the JM DeMatteis run better, so Nightmare Nurse it is. I already have purple gloves from We Love Colors. I have plenty of left over purple fabric from my Batgirl cosplay. I have super tall brown boots that I can either paint purple or make bootcovers for, I haven't decided yet. And since she's a ginger with a short bob, and I need a new Squirrel Girl wig anyway, I'll buy one that I can use for both.
I draped a pattern for her dress last night. I'm going to ruche the front panel like it seems to be in the comic. I cut out the pieces last night as well. Today I ruched the front panel and sewed the other pieces together. I will have to wait for the next MAC meeting on Wednesday to get someone to fit it on me.
Wed Oct. 17: Jason did my fitting at Cosplay Club. I completed the alterations, which was just taking in the CB seam a bit. Then I hemmed it all over and cut the straps to the right length and attached them. I also did one coat of purple acrylic on my brown Sarah Jane boots. I mixed two different purples with iridescent extender to get the right color and shine. By Friday I'd done three coats and then finished with mop and glow for the top coat. They look great.
I started on the nurse hat on Friday. I've made nurse hats before, so I just used on old one to pattern the new one in the same purple lycra. The lycra was much heavier than the cotton I'd used previously, so I added both interfacing and craft foam in the middle to help it stand up better. I need to made a Joanne's run to get grosgrain ribbon trim for it and the cross on the dress. I also need wired ribbon for the ace bandages to keep them standing away from the gloves. I still need to buy a wig. I got the rest of what I need to make the hat and the cross on the dress today at Joanne's for $10.99 i still need a white headband to sew the hat onto.
I couldn't find a white (or purple) headband for the hat, so I gave up and got a maroon plush one at Target for $9.99 that I covered in lycra. Handsewing the lycra on sucked even with a curved needle. Then I attached the hat to it, also handsewing, which also sucked. I stuffed water bottles into my gloves and wrapped wired white ribbon around t hem and hand sewed that on as well to make the bandages. I got the red wig today at Beauty Mart on Waco Drive. It was the floor sample so I got it for 10% off. It was $19.99 at the register. It got the velcro sewn on the dress this morning and just used tacky glue to glue the velcro on the cross. I used white hook velcro for the cross and black loop velcro for the dress, so it won't ruin it when I wash it. I am totally done with this costume and will be road testing it on Halloween.
I bought white tights to wear with it and ordered some earrings from Amazon that got here yesterday. They are not the Rod of Asclepius which is what she uses to identify an illness and cure it, because I couldn't find any, so they are the Staff of Caduceus, which is also used interchangeably as a medical symbol even though it's actually a symbol of commerce. They are silver and cost $9.90. I didn't road test my costume for Halloween like I intended because it was too cold and rainy. We didn't even go out, we just stayed at home and gave out candy.
Total cost: $69.90
I thought about getting a green unitard from We Love Colors, but I think it would be more comfortable and easier in the long run just to make him pants and a shirt from a less stretchy, sturdier fabric that I can sew other bits of fabric too to create the viney look.
July 17: I started on Swamp Thing today. We bought camo fabric from Joanne's a while ago 5 yards for $10.19 a yard. It has a slight two way stretch to it. I cut out pants with a high waist, a shirt and sleeves. First fitting happens this afternoon. It totally looks like Duck Dynasty right now, but that's OK. It's a process. I also cut out a hood and a collar.
Monday July 30: Sarah came to help me dye all this polyester trim green for the viney bits of Swamp Thing. It took 3.5 hours.
Tuesday July 31: Today we're doing more of the same. We dyed the cotton trim pieces brown.
Wednesday Aug. 1: I started by sorting the trim into short, medium, and long pieces. The short pieces will go on the hood and collar, the medium pieces will go on the shirt, and the long pieces