What is the fitting room really for and what have I learned through the years.
You know it is hard to admit but I used to think creation was about getting my ideas across in the fitting room. I have learned through the years that what it can really do best is be the place where both an actor and I can start to share a dream we create together. It can be a place – if they feel comfortable – where they can be secure enough to talk about how they feel in the rehearsal room and what I can do to help them. It of course is easier if you know an actor for many shows – but if not, it is important to be vulnerable enough to listen and hear -not only through their words but through their actions.
Just like you can tell when someone opens a present if it is really a surprise if they are tickled if they are not sure of why they have been given it – you can tell by how an actor responds as they look in the mirror if you are sparking a creation with them. I try to hear the face as much as I hear the words – and I try to make the fitting room a place where they can work on the character as much as they do in the rehearsal room.
What do they need – how do they see the character – how do we create together by playing in the fitting room. By that I mean here are the things we are trying; but how do you as a performer seeking a character really feel about them? – should they be put together in another way? Are there other additions or subtractions that would make a difference to the actor – this can be the combining magical moment of the character and the actor – If you can become a segment of their journey and follow suit by taking the information you get in the fitting room and going to the rehearsal room to watch the actor and director create and all the time try to remember your conversations in the fitting room; you can continue to think with and create with the actor.
Now not every time will be the same – and I always say design is a gift you can only give to those who are ready to receive it. But on the other side of that: acting is a gift that, as designers, we can only receive if we are willing to go alongside in the creation and help support the journey of the actor. I think these are lessons of the theater that are not just about design but also about how directors and actors work together.
I hope for you, the kind of feelings I have gotten over the years when I hear a singer’s voice soar and I know I have supported visually that glorious sound.