Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ode to the Costume Designer

Hey, remember when I wrote two poems for San Francisco Theater Pub's show in March? I always meant to post the poems on my blog when the "Odes of March" project was over... so here, albeit belatedly, is "Ode to the Costume Designer."
Cinderella and others got dressed in their finery
By magic, by fairies, by sprites.
In theater, our fairy’s the costume designer; she
Makes clothes to enchant and delight.

Her taste is eccentric and never generic. Her
Knowledge of costume impresses.
And many an actor first gets into character
By wearing the right shoes or dresses.

She knows how to flatter your hips, breasts, or pelvis
By artfully adding some trim
And when a director hates actors in velvet
The costumer humors his whim.

Like one of the mice in The Tailor of Gloucester
She stays up all night sewing seams
She sheds not a tear for the sleep it will cost her
Making raiment of radiant dreams.

Clothes are not silly; a character’s fashions
Can show us the depths of his heart.
So let’s pay homage to the costumer’s passions,
Her talents, her efforts, her art.
  • I tried to be clever with the rhymes but I worry that some of them are a bit too precious ("finery" / "designer, she"). However, I will defend "Gloucester" / "cost her" till my dying day.
  • I wrote stanza #4 first, and it's still my favorite -- not only for the "Gloucester" rhyme, but for the "raiment of radiant dreams" line.
  • The rhyme on "Gloucester" and "cost her" also dictated that the costume designer in my poem is female. Which made me feel like I was reinforcing gender stereotypes, in a way that I would prefer to avoid, but my rhyme-snobbery won out over my feminism :-)
  • The reference to the velvet-hating director is an in-joke about my friend Stuart.
  • On performance night, this ode was performed by Aoife Davis as the costume designer, dressing Jessica Rudholm in a beautiful gown.

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