Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mel - Day 8 and 9

As the days are getting quite busy now I find I do not have the time to do my leisurely morning writing and blog posting. So, I will endeavour to type them out at night and post them first thing when I arrive at Es Artes the following morning. This has resulted in two days in one posting.

Day 8

We've been here a week already! Crazy! We had quite a productive day today - albeit a bit of a stressful one at times. Shortly after our arrival at Es Artes this morning a woman arrived and started watching me as I worked. I went to the office to ask who she was and was told she was here to help sew. ‘Great’, I thought, ‘my first volunteer’. I have to say, I am a bit proud of myself as I managed to converse with her enough to exchange names (her name is Soyla – sp?) and gather that she does not speak any English. Apparently I did the well enough that she was convinced that I spoke ‘un pocito’ of Spanish. The rest of the conversation proved that I, in fact, do not know un pocito and I finally gave in and went to find someone to translate and we set to work. An hour and a half went by and we still had not seen the woman who we were told would be there at 9am to discuss the dying of the fabric. As I may have mentioned already, I was quite nervous to get this dying process started as we are dying a great deal indigo and I have heard that this process takes quite a bit of time. So, back to the office I go to ask if we knew when this woman was going to show up. They replied, ‘She’s in there already.’ I said, ‘What do you mean? You said she was a seamstress.’ The said, ‘Yes, she is that too!’ After quite an intense discussion involving about 7 people (3 of whom didn’t necessarily need to be there) we established that yes, she is doing the dying for us. We gave her all that we wanted dyed and she left to get started. Sigh! With that settled, I finished cutting the tunics for the Traviesos (or Tricksters) Oh! Have I mentioned the four categories of characters yet? There are: Tricksters = Traviesos

Gods = Dioses

Community = Comunidad

Hunters = Cazadores

In the afternoon I set to work drafting the pattern for the camisoles/tanks for the Gods’ underlayer. Sean and I also had the opportunity to go and see Soyla at work dying the fabric. There is a woman’s centre in Suchitoto where local women make a variety of different products (mostly sewn) and there is space there for dying as well. I don’t have the details yet on how it works – whether they rent space or are paid to be there. But it was great to see and they were so welcoming and friendly and we went through. The indigo dying process is long, intense, and very smelly. First, you need to wash and treat the fabric in preparation for dying. It must they dry completely before the dying happens. Then, depending on how dark you want the finished product, you need to dip it in the dye 4-8 times (for medium to dark fabric). I think it needs to dry somewhat between each of these dips. It takes a very patient and committed person to do this process. Soyla is definitely both of these things. I’ll try to post pictures soon.

Day 9

The container is here!!!!!!!! They said it would be today but I didn’t truly believe it until we walked around the corner and there it was. Tons of people had arrived to help unload and we quickly set to work. The mood in the air was difficult to describe as mere words don’t really capture the joy, optimism, excitement, relief and just absolute glee that was in the air. People kept remarking that it was just like Christmas not quite believing all of the materials that were sent.

For the most part, everything made it quite successfully. One of the sewing machines busted the welds that were holding the legs on and so it had fallen over and dumped machine oil over a couple of toolboxes. Some of the lights on the rack had loosened off their C-clamps and a couple of shutters had popped out (as we had anticipated) but there was not any real damage that was done. Overall, the equipment and materials had survived the trip very well.

The rest of the morning was spent sorting and organizing for us. Sean had a couple of people that had shown up to help him with props but so far, I was on my own. We tried to organize our props/wardrobe workroom as best as possible but we are still waiting on shelves and so could only do so much. Mike had 4 guys that had shown up to work with him on sound and lighting stuff and they were so eager!!!!!! Mike set them to work right away sorting and organizing. Checking all of the lighting fixtures and fixing anything that needed it. I’ll have to post pictures of the Intro to Electricity lesson that Mike gave mid-morning. They are all listening so intently! I watched them afterwards putting twist-lock plug ends on cable and being so careful to do exactly what Mike had taught them – never grumbling when Mike had them re-do something, just intense concentration as they tried to make it perfect. They worked all day in this sweltering heat never once complaining (even when Sean and I made a couple of them sort spools of thread until Mike could find another project for them). Our North American teenagers and young adults could take a lesson from these guys!

After lunch Soyla arrived with the newly dyed indigo fabric. It looks amazing!!!! I tried to ask if she was here to help for the rest of the afternoon. Words failed but actions didn’t as she quickly got the jist of what I was doing and jumped right in. By mid-afternoon Sean and Mike had managed to get one of the sewing machines working (while I continued cutting more fabric). I took over to thread a bobbin and then thread the machine and try it out. Soyla and I had this fabulous exchange with her holding the manual and me threading the machine. I am not quite sure if she was asking me about the features of the machine - telling me about how to make the stitches longer or shorter, adjust the tension, move from zigzag to straight stitches. I do feel however that the smiling she was doing at the end of this was really saying ‘Good job little girl on learning that machine!’ :) The whole thing just makes me chuckle. She left soon afterwards but she is coming back tomorrow and is ready to sew! Oh, I also found out that two of her children are in the show. Sean showed her a costume sketch of what her son will be wearing and I truly don’t think I have seen a prouder mother.

After this I was on my own again and set to work cutting the dark indigo cloth which will be the tunics for the hunters. It was a bit nerve racking as we didn’t quite have enough fabric for all 8 tunics so I had to make some interesting adjustments on the fly and I was so nervous about screwing up the beautiful work that Soyla had done. It worked out in the end and by 6 tonight all of the hunter tunics were cut. We were all hot and sweaty from out long day so we finally packed it in around 7pm and headed out for dinner with Patricia and Capitan Roca. (I did get the story on the Capitan part of his name but it is too cute to share via blog.)

We have decided to have a brief production meeting every morning at 8:30am so that we can be sure that everyone is on the same page as we all head into the rest of the day (as communication has been a bit of an issue – just like it is in most theatres, businesses etc.)

I’ll post pics as soon as I can or can perhaps get Mike to!

So much excitement here. It’s truly amazing.


  1. So happy to hear your progress and the safe arrival of your crate. Looking forward to the photos.

  2. Yipee! Glad to hear the container arrived and not too much damage. Thinking of you, Mike and Sean!


  3. Yay! Your blogs are great. Can't wait for the pics. Did you get my message on Facebook?

  4. I so enjoy the morning blog with my coffee. I am so happy for you all and can almost feel the excitement as your container finally arrived. I am also enjoying the details of the project....eager for those pics but totally understand the intense timelines you are now working wiht. Tons of love and energy sent your way for you and Mike both.

  5. I Love reading your blogs!! Great work!