Creative Recovery

I just finished a big project, designing the costumes for Mamma Mia at a localish summer stock. Between doing the contract and building a couple of costumes and taking on a bridal alteration in the middle, I felt wiped out when I was finally done on Tuesday. But I had fun with the design, after fighting it, and it was really nice having a small shop to take on the alterations and builds of the show so I could get some really nice design details in without driving myself to be sick in bed because of it.

So the past couple of days, I’ve been focusing on my kids and being kind of mindless at night after they go to bed. I freaked out about the state of the house and spent some time cleaning. I’ve played the piano every day and started singing again. I stretched for 2 days and started exercising again today. We are camping and taking the kids to their first water park tomorrow. And I’m ready to be creative again on all fronts.

Most important of all, I have finally accepted that when I design a show, it is going to consume me. And that’s okay. I have been belittling my creative process for a long time, because shows like Mamma Mia aren’t “serious” art, because the audience it reaches isn’t the one that needs escapism most, because I feel like if creative people in the entertainment industry put their attention toward fixing societal ills instead we might make the biggest leaps we have ever done as a species. It’s been hard to set those feelings aside and have fun. But I can do “serious” creative work and I can do frivolous creative work. The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

I’ve also accepted that I physically can’t do it all, so some things have to give. Motherhood is the biggest energy-taker on me right now, and my costuming work is second as that is what is paying the bills. But I will continue to work at my art, writing, and music as I can.

Hopefully the next couple of months will see more bountiful droppings to this page. But I won’t feel bad or guilty if I don’t. I’m beyond that finally. I think it’s a good thing.

The Biz

I’m just past mid-way working on my first feature film in the costume department. The hours are excruciatingly long but I have met so many great people and learned so much in this process and am being paid very well for my time, so it is worth the exhaustion of a few weeks. The designer I’m working with is so well-organized and creative, my hard work has been very appreciated by everyone involved, and the sheer juggling of all the pieces is interesting to watch and learn.

Yet as a side note, it is insane to me the amount of effort that goes into making a theatrical production or feature film, and even though I do enjoy film and theater myself personally, I can’t help but feel like the creative and monetary energies of everyone could be so much better spent elsewhere in the world. There is just a whole lot of waste going on. Even down to the number of cases of bottled water that we go through on set each day, and of course there is no recycling at most of the locations so it all just goes into the trash (I take some of my empty bottles with me to recycle at home, but when I’m super exhausted after a long overnight shoot and trying to clean up the mess in our area, I just scoop it all up into the can). I felt the same way on my first theatrical production I got hired onto after the break I took when I had my son. Here is this gigantic set built with beautiful costumes made from scratch, and it is a five week run and then it gets stored or destroyed. And then onto the next show or film. I can’t help but see the irony of all these really green creative people adding to the waste of the environment with everything involved. But I’m still here and a part of them, and seeing how costly things are, it would be incredibly difficult to produce a truly low-footprint production.

Every other thing in my life has been put on hold with the filming schedule, but yesterday and today on my days off, I am still filled with so much creative energy. I start my other long term costume job for the spring tomorrow, filling in as costumer of a college dance department while their’s is on maternity leave, which requires me to miss 3 days of these last two weeks of filming, and I am looking forward to diving back into my personal projects while doing the work for the college and spending more times with the kids once the film is done. I will need to readjust my timeframe for releasing certain things, but the work will be coming. Life is very interesting and exciting for me right now.

MLK Jr. and The Boondocks

Boondocks-mlk-2006-1070.jpgMartin Luther King Jr. Day makes me think of Aaron McGruder’s The Boondocks. There is an episode in season 1 that is a “what if” scenario, and it has Dr. King going into a coma instead of dying after being shot and then waking up shortly before 9/11 happens. That particular episode won a Peabody Award and stirred up all kinds of controversy for having Dr. King get frustrated and give an incensed speech to a crowd (you can watch that sceneĀ here).

I began reading The Boondocks comic when it first appeared in my Sunday comics. I was in high school, already questioning everything around me (seriously, teachers either loved me or hated me because I wasn’t one of those students just falling asleep or scribbling notes but actively listening and probing). The comic opened up my white suburban girl’s mind to a whole lot more than my little world, and I loved that Aaron McGruder’s comic touched on all Americans, including my own group. It was inclusive in it’s satire and brutal in it’s honesty, traits I greatly admire. So once I found out the cartoon was debuting on Adult Swim, I was very excited. Then I watched the first episode, and I laughed so much, wondered if IĀ even should be laughing at some of the jokes, then laughed some more. Each episode of the first season was artistically beautiful, pushed a lot of boundaries, hilariously funny, and a handful of episodes even made me cry – the season finale especially. And each made me question a little more. Season two was also very well done, season 3 you can tell there was a lot more studio interference, and I haven’t bothered with season 4 since Aaron McGruder wasn’t involved with it. But to me, this is what art and entertainment should be – it should make you somewhat uncomfortable, leave you asking questions, and still entertain you.

Back to MLK, it’s an intriguing thought, isn’t it? What would his response to our modern day life be like? What would many of the people who stood up for what they felt was necessary think of us today? And would they feel that the actions they took were a waste or no?