Posted on by sarah

In part two of this special edition of Tweed & Taffeta, Marjory Fielding, Wardrobe Supervisor with the renowned National Ballet of Canada gives helpful advice on the careful considerations designers need to take when crafting costumes for dancers.

 

Q: Costuming can have a profound impact on a performance. Why is it important that costuming be ‘just right’?

 

There are several levels of costuming perfection. Each costume tells both the dancer and the audience about the character being portrayed but each is also a visual element of the larger story on stage. Both should be “just right” because both support the dancer’s performance.

 

Each costume is worn by a very talented person, who has a unique opinion about how they look and feel in a costume. The design of a costume is rarely changed because a dancer doesn’t like it, but accommodations can be made so that the dancer is as comfortable as possible. Their performance will then reflect that comfort.

 

I’ve costumed performers in many disciplines and have found that dancers are the quickest to understand their clothes.  Most dancers immediately know how to make the most of their costume, how to “work it” because they know their own body’s so well.

 

Marjory Fielding

 

Q: What special considerations need to be taken when creating costumes for dancers?

 

Dancers have to be able to move. They prefer costumes that don’t mask the intricate choreography they’ve spent weeks trying to perfect.

 

A ballerina’s bodice needs to be firm enough or tight enough to stay in place when she’s grabbed by the torso and lifted high into the air. Strapless bodice designs look nice on paper but they never stay in place on a woman who’s constantly moving and being partnered.

 

Dancers need sleeve gussets so they can easily extend their arms. Men’s tunics and jackets need to be fitted but loose enough to fall back down after they’ve raised their arms over their heads or partnered a ballerina.

 

Think about safety. Never use fabrics or accessories that the dancer’s fingers could get caught in. Never include hard objects like a jewel on the end of a sash or a long necklace because when the dancer spins those things can become lethal weapons. If you have to use the aforementioned items make sure they are controlled (tacked down) so they can’t hurt anyone.

 

Don’t make long flowing costumes out of stretch fabrics – if someone steps on the hem it will just keep stretching and stretching and stretching…

 

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about your role at the National Ballet of Canada?

 

The amount of time I spend on the computer.  No one gets into costuming because they want to become an expert in Excel but I have found the importance of record keeping grows all the time.  Our company is sixty years old now so one of my goals is to create new systems that will allow us to easily pass information into the future.

 

Q: What do you love most about your job?

 

I love the first moments on the stage when the dancers make everything come alive.

 

In addition, the entire Production Department at the National Ballet of Canada produces work we can all be proud of. The Wardrobe Department is staffed by extremely talented and dedicated people who care deeply about our costumes and the dancers who wear them. Mostly, I love the creative process and working with great designers who lead us into new worlds.

 

Posted on by Jesse Tanaka

Vancouver Fringe Festival Fills the Stage

The Vancouver Fringe Festival entered its final week of performances concluding on September 14. The annual celebration organized by the First Vancouver Theatrespace Society attracts over 30,000 attendees each season to celebrate theatre in all its diverse forms.

 

Fringe Festival

 

Toronto International Film Festival Fills the Screen

The Toronto International Film Festival continues this week, which also wraps up on September 14. The festival founded in 1976, has since grown to one of the largest in the world becoming a top destination for both the independent film industry and Hollywood celebrities.

 

Toronto International Film Festival

 

U2 Releases Unwanted Gifts to The World

The iconic rock band U2 released their latest album, Songs of Innocence free to iTunes customers as a joint project with Apple. As the album was pushed to automatically appear in iTunes accounts, the group received a swarm of backlash as users not interested in their latest offerings discovered that they were unable to delete the album.

 

U2 iTunes

 

Shakespeare’s Complete Works Translated To Mandarin

The U.K. government announced plans this week to donate 2.7 million to translate Shakespeare’s complete works into Mandarin. The goal of the cash infusion is to build a cultural cooperation with China and for East and West cultures to share art across boundaries.

 

Shakespeare Mandarin

 

Posted on by sarah

Tweed & Taffeta is a series from Laura Murray Public Relations that explores costuming in celebrated performances – the varying interpretations from one production to the next and the subtle yet sweeping influence of wardrobe on a show’s overall texture.

 

For this edition of Tweed & Taffeta, we’re thrilled to profile Wardrobe Supervisor Marjory Fielding, who has been working side-by-side with renowned costume designers at the esteemed National Ballet of Canada since 1995.

 

Marjory Fielding_1

 

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

 

I grew up surrounded by fabric, my mother sewed all the time. She made wardrobes for my dolls, which I still have, and especially cherish one little dress that was a duplicate of the one I wore on my first day of kindergarten. She taught me how to sew too.

 

After obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Art with a major in painting from Philadelphia College of Art, I changed directions and started to create works in fabric. Costuming was an accidental discovery but once I started I never looked back. I loved working on projects that involved so many people working towards a common goal, and I was eager to do whatever project was presented to me.

 

At one time or another I’ve done everything it takes to get a costume to the stage. I’ve worked with celebrated designers from around the world on operas, ballets, mega musicals and films. I also started Chrome Yellow, a company still operating today, specifically to dye, paint and breakdown costumes.

 

Q: Explain your role and responsibilities as Wardrobe Supervisor with the National Ballet of Canada

 

My job is to get costumes on stage, on time and on budget.  I work closely with designers to make sure the costumes we make meet their specifications and also serve the needs of our dancers.

 

Marjory Fielding_2

 

Q: What is the process of creating costumes for a new performance? How does it differ from preparing costumes for a production that the company has performed before?

 

Ideally on a new production the first step is to meet with the designer to talk about their overall design concept and to look at their sketches. We also talk about the types of fabric and the colour palette they want to work with. If I’m lucky, the designer will know about the number of characters and number of costumes per character but when we are dealing with a brand new work with new choreography those important facts may not yet be determined.

 

The next step is to take whatever information I have and turn it into a budget. After consulting with the cutters, I try to figure out how many hours it will take to build a costume, how much the fabric and trim might cost, how many additional people I will need to hire to supplement the ballet’s full time wardrobe staff and what specialty craftspeople will be needed.

 

Once the budget is approved we can proceed to build or at least line up staff and source fabrics while we wait for casting.

 

The process is different when we are remounting a show.  The design is set when the costumes are first made but the dancers will not be the same. We refit the costumes, alter as necessary or build duplicate costumes when alterations aren’t possible.  Our goal is always to respect the original design, our loyalty is to the designer’s vision.

 

Check back next week for Part Two of our interview with Marjory!

 

Posted on by sarah

The Client

 

For nearly 75 years, Theatre Under the Stars has brought soaring works of song & dance to the crown jewel of Vancouver – Stanley Park. This year, due to overwhelming demand, Theatre Under the Stars’ critic and audience-acclaimed productions of Shrek: The Musical and Legally Blonde: The Musical held over their runs by one week. A groundbreaking achievement, this marked the first time in TUTS history that such a holdover occurred.

 

The Campaign

 

Laura Murray Public Relations was hired to provide a full-scale marketing and communications campaign which included digital advertising, social media, consulting, advertising, a full media relations campaign, as well as strategic promotions that saw a host of fun, TUTS-themed events, contests, and displays throughout the Lower Mainland.

 

Campaign Components

 

The promotions portion of the campaign used a three-pronged approach to increase and then maintain public awareness for both performances.

 

1. Contest boxes placed at strategic, family-focused sites throughout the area, with locations including Neverland Tea Salon, Rocky Mountain Flatbread, Maplewood Farm, and multiple De Dutch locations – to name a few.

 

2. TUTS-themed window displays at various retail locations including The Bay, The Dance Shop, and Book Warehouse.

 

3. Public appearances from leading characters at several sites throughout the city – a tandem bike ride in Stanley Park, performances and ticket giveaways at The International Summer Night Market in Richmond, and a Shrek appearance at Kids Market on Granville Island and HR MacMillan Space Centre.

 

Shrek's visit to the Kids Market on Granville Island.

Shrek’s visit to Kids Market on Granville Island.

The Bay Display

The Legally Blonde display in Hudson’s Bay, downtown Vancouver location.

Shrek & Fiona at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Shrek & Fiona at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Elle and Warner on a tandem bike ride through Stanley Park.

Elle and Warner on a tandem bike ride through Stanley Park.

Posted on by shona

Just in time for the Labour Day long weekend, we present part two of our two part series of the LMPR teams favourite travel reads.

 

This time we focus on novels that takes the reader on  journeys of self discovery through travel, as well as explore drunken mistakes which evolve into a epic stories.

 

Laura Murray – Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

 

eat_pray_love

Regardless of where I travel, great food and wine, a gathering of friends and family, and a healthy dose of discovery are usually, if not always, part of the mix.

 

So when I was asked to select a favourite travel-inspired read, I immediately turned to Elizabeth Gilbert’s irresistible true story – Eat, Pray, Love – an enviable journey whereby food, love, language, and self-discovery are at its core.

 

As I flip through the pages of my own weather-worn copy – thinking back to where I sat, curled up, devouring each page – a pair of plane tickets emerge – tucked neatly into the back cover. I am instantly transported to Thailand – a trip my husband and I took before we were married, recalling the white sandy beaches, the vibrant culture, and the glorious taste and aromas of the food…sigh.

 

 

Jesse Tanaka – The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float by Farley Mowat

 

the-boat

The unfortunate passing of one of my favourite authors this spring also led me to rediscover one of Canada’s all time greats, Farley Mowat.

 

The Boat Who Wouldn’t Float follows Mowat during his time in Newfoundland as he attempts to sail the Maritimes. One evening after a bit too much Screech, he agrees to purchase the most beautiful boat ever built, or so he thought. As with all good drunken mistakes, a great story was born. In between a never-ending series of makeovers, the ironically named Happy Adventure sets sail with sharks, rum-runners and even a girl willing to share the journey.

 

It’s worth reading just to see how he managed to capture the Newfoundland accent in writing.

 

 

Shona Wercholuk – Wild by Cheryl Strayed

wild

 

Wild is a novel I was given to read as part of my monthly book club and I wasn’t overly excited. After all, how thrilling could a book about a hike be? Boy, I could not have been more wrong!

 

Wild is a tale of true inner strength in a time that couldn’t be darker for this tragically troubled women. Burdened with her mothers premature death, multiple affairs, a divorce, and drug addiction, Cheryl makes an impulsive decision: She suddenly decides to embark on a journey of epic proportions, as she hikes the gruelling Pacific Crest Trail with no experience or training.

 

Through her passionate storytelling and unique intentions, this novel tells of a woman that must physically lose herself in something to heal and ultimately be found.

 

 

Posted on by Brian

In just one week the 2014 Vancouver Fringe Festival will descend upon the city for 11 frenetic days. Hundreds of artists will congregate on Granville Island and in venues across the city to present a dizzying roster of more than 700 performances.

 

This staggering volume and variety, paired with a lottery-based selection system, mean every performance attended is a roll of the dice. Some will be riotously entertaining, some profoundly moving, and some inevitably cringe-inducing. Fringe is a theatrical smorgasbord of possibility and discovery.

 

Each year, LMPR’s Brian Paterson combs through the program guide to select five highlights from the festival. With just a handful of words and one small image, these shows particularly piqued his interest and will see him take the plunge:

 

Industry: The Food Must Go Out

Fringe is brilliant for taking theatre to places we normally wouldn’t encounter it. This year, shows will run in alleyways, boats, playgrounds, and more. This work- which uses Edible Canada Bistro as its stage- is especially intriguing. 

 

Created and performed by a duo of veteran Fringe comedians and food servers, the piece promises to amplify and satirize the inherently dramatic experience of restaurant work.

 

Bonus points for being at least partly auto-biographical – a Fringe hallmark.

 

Jem Rolls Attacks the Silence

Seeing a truly gifted spoken word poet is an intoxicating experience. It’s unlike any other form of theatre. Through percussive, rhythmic performance the word is transformed into something weightier and more powerful, imbuing a single performer on a bare stage with the emotional impact of a Mahler symphony.

 

Jem Rolls is an international Fringe legend, whose latest show has built a great head of steam as it travels East through Canada’s network of Fringe festivals.

 

Expect humorous anecdotes, heavy human insight, a razor sharp mind, and crackling poetic bravado.

 

Peter n’ Chris and the Kinda OK Corral

Disclosure: This pick isn’t entirely chosen from the guide: I’ve seen these two previously. The experience remains the hardest I have ever laughed at a show (that ‘can’t-catch-your-breath, starting-to-get-worried’ type of laughter).

 

Peter n’ Chris are masterful physical performers who joyfully skewer dramatic conventions and genre tropes in odd-ball, over-the-top, meta-theatre adventures.

 

Few artists have as much fun performing as Peter n’ Chris, and their enthusiasm is positively infectious.

 

The Chariot Cities

For a few years it seemed that Fringe musicals had to be campy send-ups (ideally of a popular film). These have their place, but they skip over the emotional depth accessible by the form.

 

Audiences seeking musical theatre have options this year, but The Chariot Cities is particularly promising. It follows a broken and dysfunctional family of musicians, taking the 70′s folk era as its inspiration, and sports a line-up of serious local talent.

 

Anticipate raw emotion and beautiful song.

 

Caws & Effect

It’s a beautiful thing to be in dumbstruck awe of fellow human being’s imagination. Mind of a Snail’s contribution seems like an excellent opportunity to seek out this experience.

 

Made lovingly by hand, their grand-scale shadow puppetry promises to take us into the world of crows with projections, masks, and an original score. I pick it hoping to feast my eyes on unprecedented sights.

 

 

The Vancouver Fringe Festival 2014 Program Guide is now available so that audiences can plan their own theatrical expeditions.

 

We’d love to hear about your own discoveries and adventures- feel free to share your picks and reviews in the comments or tweet using the #VanFringe hashtag so that we can follow along!