WARDROBE "NEEDS TO KNOW"

1)   Wardrobe is not a "blowoff" or "easy" job. You have to be constantly alert, organized and prepared for anything. Items and personnel can change from show to show. You also are dealing with personalities, some of these are very difficult. You are working with a professional crew and are there to do a professional job.

2)   YOUR DEPARTMENT HEAD IS YOUR BOSS. The person may change from show to show, and you may have personality clashes, but whoever is department head IS IN CHARGE. If you have any problems or questions whatsoever, GO TO YOUR DEPARTMENT HEAD. He will find the answer for you or take care of the problem. If the department head asks you to do something, DO IT. DO NOT GO TO THE ROAD CREW with problems or complaints, and especially do not air personal gripes or union problems to them. In-fighting will not be tolerated.

3)   You should always dress in black or very dark colors, at least for the first show. You never know where you are going to be assigned and if you are anywhere backstage, there is the possibility of coming into sight-lines of the audience. Even if you are assigned to an offstage position, there is always the possibility of an emergency happening and your being asked to rush backstage at a moment's notice.

Occasionally the road crew will tell you it is all right to not wear black, but do not take this for granted.

4)   Call time is usually an hour or half hour before show time. You MUST report in to your department head on EVERY SINGLE CALL TIME and let him know you are there. The road crew will come to the department head to ask if everyone is there, if a specific person is there, etc., and the department head has to know. If someone is late, the department head has to make sure the presets are taken care of. CALL TIME IS WHEN YOU ARE READY TO WORK, NOT THE TIME YOU WALK INTO THE BUILDING! You should have already checked in with your department head, be in your assigned work location and be ready to work. You must CHECK OUT with your department head on EVERY SINGLE CALL. Noone is to leave until every wardrobe person is done. If that means standing there and waiting, so be it. If someone's work takes longer than yours, ask if you can help.

5)   Basic items wardrobe should always have with them: several safety pins and a bite-light flashlight. Minimags usually are not acceptable. Sometimes you just don't have the time to turn them on, and you need both hands free. You can tell a wardrobe person by the string of safety pins hanging off his shirt. These are for emergency repairs for actors about to go on-stage and to mark needed repairs for the road wardrobe crew.
  If working on an ice show, it's also a good idea to have a pair of needlenose pliers with you at all times. [hooks on skates coverings are often stepped on and squeezed shut, and you need to pry them open on a moment's notice.

6)   When handling any wardrobe pieces, there are two things to do EVERY SINGLE TIME. First, if there are any names or numbers on the hanger, clothes, pieces and parts, check them to make sure everything matches. Check them when you hang them up, when you set them out in a preset and when you are doing laundry. Even if you have already checked them, double check them and then triple check them. You must be very diligent about this. This is not only to double check yourself, but very often other people will move wardrobe presets for WHATEVER reason, and you are responsible for making sure all presets are correct. Make sure shoes haven't been kicked out of place.
  Secondly, every time you pick up a piece, give it a quick look at zippers, buttons, snaps, hooks & eyes, (and anything special like skate covering hooks, etc.) to make sure there are no loose or broken items, hooks that are squeezed shut, etc. Check for holes, ripped seams/hems, etc. If it's before the show, determine whether or not the problem is all right to go on stage. If there's time get it fixed. If there's not time, make a mental note of it. Ther the actor is done with the piece, put a safety pin by the problem, take it to the wardrobe room and tell the road crew about it. They usually will have a notebook where you can write down the costume piece, its number and problem.   Before the next show you MUST remember to go back to the wardrobe room, pick up your pieces and return them to their show positions.

7)   Many shows have cue sheets and very often each wardrobe person has his own. If there are sheets, there are enough cues that you cannot possibly remember them all. They are there to assist you. Do not try to memorize them. Check them constantly, even if you re sure you know what is coming up. These notes often are altered somewhat because of circumstances in this particular house, if a regular actor is out, etc. Have a pen or pencil with you for the first preset and throughout the first show to jot down any verbal changes.

8)   Many shows have slow periods. You can bring a book or magazine along just in case, but don't bring busy work that has a lot of pieces and parts. But, do not assume it's all right to read. The road crew will tell you on the first show whether it's all right. If they don't mention it, DO NOT READ.
  Ditto about watching the show. Sometimes they will tell you when it might be all right and sometimes they will say don't do it at all. If you DO watch part of the show: keep constantly aware of where the backstage crew is and when actors are going to be coming offstage. There are cues you know nothing about that are probably coming up any second.   Also, talk as little as possible, and only in whispers. You often hear road crew talking, sometimes quite loudly. DO NOT TAKE THIS A LICENSE TO DO SO YOURSELF.

9)   Go very lightly on makeup. Too much possibility of things rubbing off onto costumes. You are coming into close personal contact with sweaty, naked bodies. EVERYONE is concerned about transmitting whatevers these days. Wash your hands frequently, both for your sake and the actors'. Don't play around with makeup, poke at your face, do your hair, etc. during the show.

10)   Occasionally, there are shows where the people you dress will tip you. This is acceptable, but its not standard practice.

11)   EVERYONE WHO WORKS FOR THE UNION, whether they are a member or not, must pay 5 percent of all earnings to the union. This may be deducted right off the paycheck, but often not. IF IT IS NOT BEING DEDUCTED, YOUR DEPARTMENT HEAD OR THE STAGE STEWARD WILL LET YOU KNOW THE AMOUNT YOU OWE AND HOW TO PAY.

Last modified 7/2/00