The Dresser opened last night at Black Stripe Theater. The play, by Ronald Harwood, tells the story of an aging actor’s personal assistant, who is struggling to keep the actor’s life together. I have been responsible for costumes and wardrobe, which does mean I get to be the dresser at The Dresser.
It’s been a lot of work for everyone involved, but worth it, given how well the show went last night. It’s the first time I’ve been a lead costumer and I was concerned about my fairly basic sewing skills. I still get scared every time I have to cut fabric, sewing can mostly be undone, but cutting is permanent. I was also surprised that I got nervous before the show. I know that always happens when I have to perform, but it never occurred to me that being responsible for how actors looked would also feel like a type of performance. Thankfully they all looked good and the costume changes happened as expected.
I enjoyed making the hats and head dresses. My favourite is the wild flower crown, which looks surprisingly good for something made from materials bought from my local 100 円 ($1) store.. . .
I’m getting fed up going to the dentist. Today’s visit didn’t go well as the area around the root canal appears to be infected and there is a deep gum pocket. I’m still waiting on the cap. The dentist mentioned the possibility of having to remove the tooth, even though I had the expensive root canal treatment. My next appointment is in just under 2 weeks. It seems endless.. . .
I have had a crack in one of my back molars for years. This didn’t seem to be causing a problem but my dentist told me that it needed to be capped and not just filled. At the start of that appointment my tooth wasn’t sore, but once the dentist had finished exploring with a drill that was no longer true. He also wasn’t able to cap the tooth as he suspected I need a root canal treatment.
Having the root canal took two appointments with an endodontist as I apparently have tiny narrow bendy root canals that needed widened. It was not a pleasant experience. My mouth is small, my teeth are large, and my jaw doesn’t stay open wide enough. It involved having a block jammed into my mouth to keep it open, and lots of drills and long pointing things. The worst part is not the pain, it’s not knowing what is happening or how long it will take. There are so many scary looking instruments and the smell of burning didn’t help. The anesthetic also made me feel shaky and queasy.
Now I need to arrange more appointments to have the cap put on. The endodentist suggested that I leave it for a week to give myself a break from mouth pain.. . .
Underwear, when new, can be a bright glaring white. I’m working on a costume that requires the underwear to look old and worn, and it was suggested that I dye it with tea. This is not something I have done before so I bought a test garment, in the same fabric, and tried aging it yesterday afternoon.
I have read many online articles about this process and a chapter on dyeing materials in a text book. All they really told me is that you use tea and water. There is no way to know what colour the end product will look like, which is not good when you only have one costume and you can’t get another one if you mess up. Everyone uses different tea, different amounts of tea, they are vague about the amount of water they use, or how long it will take. Do you use salt in the water? Does the garment need rinsed or washed first? Do you add vinegar at the end?
I bought a black lipton tea and put four teabags and 3 litres of hot water in a large basin. I added a teaspoon of salt. I removed the tea bags after five minutes and then added the garment, which I had rinsed in warm water. I let it steep in the solution for one hour and then removed it and rinsed it in warm water. The garment certainly dyed but I didn’t like how it looked. It’s much browner than I wanted and I think that the brown almost has a pinkish tinge to it. The colour is also patchy, which makes me think that I will need to stir it during the dyeing process to try to get a more even colour. Or I need a bigger container to dye it in, but I don’t think I have one.
Today I’m going to test strips of white cotton with a different tea solutions to see if I can get close to the colour I want. I completely understand now why people use bottled dyes that mimic this process as at least then you will have clear instructions on how to use the product and a much clearer idea of the expected outcome. I realise that my garment is not the same as a strip of cotton, but it’s the best I can do.. . .
We took a day trip to Gunma Prefecture to visit a lavender park. I was really impressed with what frozen things do in summer.. . .
A few unexpected things have happened this month that have taken me away from my computer. Now that I’m trying to get back to a routine I’m having problems with a tooth. I went to the dentist with a crack in a back molar that will take 5 visits to the dentist to fix. I haven’t met a person who likes having dental work done so you won’t be surprised when I say that I’m not enjoying it. At least I’m being given strong painkillers.
I have been getting more involved with English theatre in Tokyo over the past year. Black Stripe Theater is putting on The Dresser, by Ronald Harwood, in September and I’m working on the costumes for that. Tokyo is not the easiest place to find clothing suitable for a play set in 1941 in Britain, but I’m enjoying the challenge.. . .
Tonight we went to see the fireworks on the Sumida River. In the past we have tried to find somewhere to sit but that takes a lot of preparation. This year we decided to walk along the river during the display. Even though there were tens of thousands of people outside there was still a route that was clear. We ended up with a better view than we had in the past and we got to exercise.. . .
My first lunch time back in Tokyo and I had to resist buying far too much sushi. I miss it when I travel. I sometimes buy it in other countries but it’s not the same. I worry about eating sushi in places far from the sea, or in places where raw fish isn’t commonly eaten, so I tend to buy rolls that contain vegetables or cooked fish. But never avocado as I can’t stand the green mushy stuff and hate that American sushi chefs are fascinated with it.
I did get a shock in a Japanese restaurant in Florida as they served an “Atom Bomb Roll”. This horrifyingly named roll contained salmon and spiced tuna. I can’t imagine that anyone Japanese was involved in that restaurant. Oddly named sushi seemed to be a theme as they also had a “Beauty and the Beast Roll” that contained tuna, eel, crab, avocado, and cream cheese, which sounds disgusting. Thankfully today’s sushi was amazing.. . .
I’m really pleased to be back home. But there is one thing that I really didn’t miss…
… my apartment block jerking and swaying.. . .
I’m finally on my way back to Japan. I did manage to pack a lot into my two months but I always feel like I could do more as there were people I didn’t manage to contact never-mind see. I was going to write about the highlights of my trip but I’m tired and finding it hard to think past last week.
I’m looking forward to being home.. . .