|Back again, taking a break this afternoon briefly from mask and shield building to tell you all about what's been shaking down the pipe, as they say.|
First off, the weather has been incredibly humid and much to the disbelief of the community, it has been raining in March which hasn't helped. When the crate finally arrived yesterday morning from Stratford and the sky began to pour, you could only laugh. I think it was a test from the Mayan gods to our determination!!!
We unloaded the truck with several helpers and directed them to the courtyard and workrooms, trying as we went to pile like with like. With the boxes labelled in English only and the helpers uni-lingually Spanish, there was a lot of arm-waving and pointing. It was how I imagined my career as a airport runway director, only far more exciting because the supplies had finally arrived.
The next 48 hours have been spent unpacking and digging for the materials needed to proceed with the show. We are at a loss for shelving at the moment, so there has been a bit of frustration and a significant lack of floor space, but with some ingenuity we have managed to construct a few things to help with storage. A storage skid has been upturned and nailed to 1x3 to create a rocking painting corner, housing the brushes on nails. Some cinder-block and plank shelves have been used to create our swatch wall full of bits and pieces from Stratford's scrap fabric collection. Having a place to put things has made today go so much smoother. We managed to get the first sewing machine up and running yesterday (with a few choice words that can't be printed and a TON of oil up and down my arms), and today a local guy from the trade school managed to weld the legs of the second table back together and it is now running just as smoothly. Thankfully all they needed was a little TLC to get them going and not a full overhaul. By the end of yesterday we were all ripe and filthy but so pleased that we finally had the beginnings of a proper workspace with the equipment needed to get the show underway. We've had a ton of volunteers chipping in and Mike has been holding an electrics 101 for some local boys that seems to be going really well. They're not so keen to help with the wardrobe side, but with a little encouragement, (or bribery of cool beverages), they've been helpful with some of the more menial tasks of sorting thread spools. It seems that gender roles are still played out in the workplace and there's a definite divide between MANual labour and craft-work. I think that'll change soon once they see how much fun props can be!
We've had a lovely seamstress in who spent the early part of the week dying some fabric in the traditional indigo technique for our story, which has been great. It's really nice to be able to use the skills that are here and to draw from the culture for the telling of our myth. I think the audience will really connect with the colours and textures of the show and recognize the effort.
Speaking of which, you might be asking what is the show? Well, it's a short myth loosely based on classic folklore from the Mayan and Aztec culture. It begins with a group of Hunters who are granted special help in finding their sport by the gods if they remain humble and serve the community. A group of troublesome spirits arrive to corrupt the morals of our proud group and soon the game is being used for riches and not survival. Once this is discovered by the community and the gods, the Hunters are threatened with exile, but plead for a second chance. In our story they get one, under some serious conditional terms, but in the authentic tale they are sent to live in the woods invisible from society forever.
I have been researching the Mayan and Aztec culture, drawing from their art and tools to design the props and costumes. I'm using a lot of symbolism, giving each character their own role in the community. As an example, the Mayans believed that the directions of North, South, East and West were connected with colours from their world so I have been assigning roles to the hunters that coincide with these beliefs labelling a character, Hunter of the North with his matching colour as a companion and so on. Their costumes will reflect traditional Mayan simplicity, indigo dyed with their symbolism painted on as a crest for others to recognize them by. I will also be using stones and local beads to enhance and denominate the social structure of the tribe. We've managed to pull together some wonderful natural textures from the scraps that Stratford sent and will be incorporating these into shawls, bundles and baby wraps. In addition we have a multi-level stage for playing on that has a centre insert for a style of maypole to celebrate the riches of the hunt. I'm taking more scraps to create a patchwork collage on the ribbons to give the piece some extra depth and bring some natural life to the ceremony. Masks will play a role in the misgivings of our trickster spirits, disguising them from the world as they try to stir up doubt and distrust with in the community. All of these projects are fairly loose in the way they are laid out, so there is some room for the local volunteers to participate and bring their own style to the piece. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.
That's about it for now. Lots to do so I should run before someone thinks the designer is slacking. Thanks for all your support, some costume renderings will be posted soon for you to get a clearer idea of what the traditional garb might have looked like in the period.
Buenos, Sean xo