Traveling with Fabrics to India

Now that I’m getting used to my sewing machine, I’m starting to get more challenging projects at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Right now I’m working mostly on a costume called a ghagra. It’s part of traditional Indian costumes and it’s pretty much a skirt with about 20 panels in it that are gathered in to a facing/yoke piece. The way Indian costuming basically works (and I’m not an expert, so don’t take my word on this for certain), is that there is a bodice or choli, the skirt or ghagra, and a sari that is draped around the wearer in a specific way. How the sari is wrapped and the colors and motifs on it determine what region and class standing the wearer is from. I think that technically the sari is tucked into the ghagra and the ghagra and the sari are one piece.

I’ve been working with very difficult fabric. Most of them have been silks, chiffons, and lighter fabrics. I’ve been taking pictures and need to find a time to put them on dress forms and hopefully get a full and final picture of the ghagras. I’m moving on to a choli and a pijama soon (pijamas, I gather, are the pants underneath some of the ghagras). I feel like I’m starting to communicate more effectively with my draper/cutter, so things have been going OK. I do get frustrated sometimes and wish I could be faster, but I suppose it’s something I’ll have to work at while I’m here. Accuracy and speed are two things I hope to improve on.

The nice thing about the costume shop is that the shop manager had all of the new people in the costume shop have a meeting (this included people who had either a new job in the shop or were new to the festival). It was nice to know that people are anxious just like me. They realize how significant the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is in the theatre world and know that it has a high caliber of work. Because of this, we all want to do well and feel that our work is appreciated. Like most people, I felt that those in the shop want to help you out and help you feel less overwhelmed. It’s nice to know that the company is looking out for their workers. This week in particular was difficult. I was missing some people back in Denver and dealing with situations that are happening miles away from me. I try to keep my head up and focus on work instead of dwelling on my personal issues in the shop. I had to constantly tell myself: “There’s nothing you can do about it now, so just deal with it when you get home.” It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it was nice to know that there might be other people out there feeling the same things.

I also had a F.A.I.R. Forum, which is basically an event where all the other interns and apprentices meet with various people at the festival to ask them about their role in the festival, how the festival works, how the festival is changing, etc. This Friday, we got to meet with Bill, Rauch, the new Artistic Director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I really enjoyed talking to him and he seems to be focused on each individual person at the festival and lets them know he cares about what they do for Oregon Shakespeare Festival. I admired his outlook on how he works with people. He picks them not because they are minorities or because they have similar views as him. He chooses to work with people because they are hard workers and they are good at their craft. He seems to accept individuals for who they are and he doesn’t typecast them. Everything he said made me realize how much I agreed with him and have been looking for people who feel the same way. I thought he was an incredibly dedicated, passionate, and unique individual.

Other than work, I’ve been hanging out with people on the weekends and trying to do as much as I can on my own time. I’ve been trying to get around to some writing and screenplay ideas that have been simmering in my brain for a while. I also have a few books I need to catch up on. I hope it will make the homesick times better.

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