Michael L. Davenport is the costumer for Blood Relations. He took a bit of a road trip this past weekend in pursuit of his duties; here he is to tell us all about it.
I've been asked to write a post about the "challenge" of costuming the show Blood Relations. Let me sum up the challenge for you: the Borden murders happened in 1892. Now, go to your closet and take a peek. Does it look like 1892 in there to you? No? I bet if you had a time machine, and wore nearly anything in your closet back in 1892, the locals would have some questions for you. That's the challenge.
The first step in the costume hunt was scouring KWLT's own costume storage. We have a few pieces which look late-19th-early-20th century, but not enough to costume a whole cast, and most items weren't the sizes or colours I needed. (Side note: We still have quite a few peices from the 1960s, because Hair, so if anyone wants to do a '60s show again, knock yourself out.) So, we needed to look elsewhere.
Enter Theatre Tillsonburg. KWLT President Matt Walsh tipped me off that they were having a costume sale, so that's where I was last Saturday.
Tillsonburg is about an hour away from Kitchener-Waterloo, and the costume sale allegedly started at 8:00 am, so the trip required waking up at stupid-o'clock in the morning. I say "allegedly started" because I pulled into the parking lot at exactly 8:00am, and the doors were already open, and I was far from the first person there. I had drastically under-estimated the yard-sale crowd.
There were costumes galore, but 99% wasn't what I was looking for. This is not a surprise. Most props and costumes hunts are needle-in-haystack affairs. Here's a secret though: a good chunk of theatre inventory (theirs, and also ours) is somewhat a function of what people want to get rid of. In Theatre Tillsonburg's case: so many polyester pantsuits. If Blood Relations were set in the 1970s, Theatre Tillsonburg would have had all the costumes I needed.
Even so, hidden among all the padded-shoulders and schoolgirl kilts and other items, were a few things maybe-useful for our show. Here's what $30 can buy you at a theatre's costume sale:
I was particularly excited by that white dress with matching jacket and belt. Close up, you can see that the pattern is an adorable and cheerful print of outdoor activities. (Side note: textile printing goes back centuries.) The style was appropriate, the print made me happy, and most importantly, the measurements indicated it'd probably fit the actor. And you know what? It did.
Conclusion: trip to Tillsonburg was worthwhile.