As I think about you two working on getting careers going I recall that there have been other items along the lines of less than a pandemic but still pretty complicated in my 40 years on the street of Broadway. Let me see; there was the feet of snow the first winter I was in NYC in 1978 – it stopped everything and I was in one sublet apartment after another – that was after the month on a piece of foam in a friends living room when I first arrived as my bed… Not too many years into my time as a design assistant we had a subway strike during our build of the national tour of Fiddler – it was I believe 1980 – Getting anywhere was nearly impossible as you had so few cabs and everyone wanted them. You can imagine what trying to get actors for fittings was like at that point. We did finally make it to the out of town in Delaware.
Then there was the garbage strike the year of doing the initial production of Sunday in the Park at Playwrights Horizons – it was summer – the hottest summer in a century. I remember one morning when it was over 100 degrees going to the shop at 9 am and you can imagine how piled up garbage smelled then after about 2 weeks….. We had no air conditioning in the shop so we used ice in front of a fan to try to cool off Bernadette Peters in her fitting for period costumes.
9- 11 was a beautiful morning – an amazing fall day and I was headed to San Diego for dress rehearsals of Mid Summer Nights Dream at the Old Globe. I was on the plane on the tarmac at Newark airport – seat 17 C when I noticed that there was smoke coming out of the World Trade Center across the river in Manhattan – it was a terrifying thing to watch the trade center fall to the ground from the airport – Followed by Barbara Matera my friend and mentor who owned the costume shop that had built every one of my Broadway shows having a brain aneurism that night and dying two days later. Our whole city was in mourning and the costume world was even in more mourning. I was in the middle of building the costumes for the Ringling Brothers Circus and they asked if they should take the work away from Barbara’s shop since she had died – I told them if they did I was no longer designing the circus.. they left the work where it was and it was beautiful.
Our community rallied and shows were up and running in a few days in defiance of what had happened to our city and our people. 2007 brought the economy to a halt and that made many of our Broadway producers go away – we had smaller fees and smaller budgets – but we can back. So here we are today, I know you are trying to make ends meet – I am going into the New Amsterdam theater to choose fabrics for a new Beauty and the Beast in London and we look like we are in a science fiction movie – masks – social distanced – zoom meetings on a huge screen with the team in London since travel means at least 14 days quarantine … fabric swatches being decontaminated – people cleaning the bathrooms every 2 hours –
The mornings mean me going by what used to be restaurants filled to the brim that now have a plastic window where they can push some food thru to patrons on the street. BUT WE WILL BE BACK!! People need stories – they need to gather as a group and they need to share. The commonality of these needs will make for a theater for you to be a part of and to teach people through Know it is a blessing and enjoy the good times of it, but know the hard times of it make for the group of people we are and the stories we have to tell..