Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The first fitting!

So we got to the fitting, at long last actor has disappeared off to an audition without telling Ase, and Natalie's actor is awol!

Things clearly can never be simple.

I feel as though this situation can reflect how it is professionally, in real life. At the costume fittings at AUCB the actors rarely don't turn up. This is probably because there is so much publicity about the fittings beforehand, and also we are in touch with a lot of them on a social level and can remind them about it when we see them. This is not to say that Ase didn't remind them: I am sure that she did many times. If I had managed to meet the actor beforehand to measure him, I could have asked to take his mobile number or e-mail, and reminded him the day before. However I think that ultimately this is not part of my responsibility, as fittnings are generally organised by the costume supervisor. Which is what happened.

The solution we found was to fit the suit on another actor of a similar size. Not an ideal situation for a fitted tailored suit it must be said, but I fully accept that it was necessary to compromise! It was more of less OK to do this in this situation because firstly, the suit was not for a specific actor in a play, but as a stock piece in their wardrobe; and secondly, the theatrical seam allowances we put in to the suit meant that we were able to do this. (At which point I really salute theatrical seam allowances, and think that I will continue to use large seam allowances whilst I am less experienced, even if not necessarily required at all points [such as traditional tailoring] . Better safe than sorry & all that.) This would be less of an issue if I lived closer to the place where the fitting was. When I move back to London after graduating this will be an advantage, as I won't have to travel quite so far.

Ase managed to find another actor with measurements slightly akin, and very fortunately he was both available to do the fitting immediately, and very co-operative. I took some measurements from him myself this time and discovered that he was slightly larger and slightly taller than the actor that the suit was made for. The suit had to be let out accordingly, around the torso and the seat of the trousers; and also the trousers and the sleeve were lengthened. These alterations should not be too drastic, which is good. The top  pocket of the waistcoat should be moved but again this was expected. It's so good to put the suit on an actual person in order to gauge how the design lines will be. These often change when on a real body rather than a mannequin!

Now I admit that I had been fairly apprehensive about this fitting before coming to it. I have never worked with anyone from Arts Ed before and so wasn't sure what to expect personality wise. (As I have generally known the people I've worked with at AUCB). On reflection this is definitely a good experience as of course it will be like this in the professional world. But I resolved to be as confident as I could. Before breaking up for the holidays Graham gave us a list of things to go through and look for at the fitting, in a fairly methodical manner. I brought my notes with me to the fitting and also read them through on the train. However on hindsight I think it would have been most beneficial to type them up clearly in a bullet pointed list, and physically pick them up and refer to them during the fitting, ticking things off if necessary. The fit was generally alright but there were a few things that I'm not sure if I remembered to definitely check, which would have improved the general accuracy.

Fitting the trousers felt like a delicate situation, for both myself at the actor. We fit along the centre back seam, and as I had to let it out quite a bit I will distribute this across the 2 side seams as wel as the CB. All this of course involved a lot of pinning and chalking and general fiddling around in an intimate area. I was as professional as I could be, though did feel the actor's apprehension. In order to try and put him at ease a bit I maintained a detached but friendly professional manner, making a little bit of small talk and asking him about himself. He was really nice. I think that bedside manner is extremely important at a fitting. I was polite to him and asked him to move, turn around, etc in a courteous manner. I also thanked him a lot (particularly as he turned up at such short notice, and as a favour.) I admit that the small talk did make it difficult to concentrate some times but I think that this will improve as I do more fittings. (Obviously I will  concentrate on what I am doing and looking at as I do the fitting, but I think that a bit of friendly conversation would dispel any nervousness.)

It was good to have Mary & Natalie around to have a second opinion, as well as Ase. I brought along my historical references which was helpful.

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