Thursday, March 29, 2007

What's professional?

Laura has been experiencing trauma for the last few weeks at the hands of the costume designer for the most recent Dance Kaleidoscope show. The company hired a designer to design and build the costumes for their Beatles show, and he's been much trouble. The biggest problem is that he's late; they open tonight, and the costumes aren't expected to be ready until... wait for it... Tomorrow! And, apparently they knew before they hired him that he's got a reputation for extreme lateness. Laura had to have her light plot to the theater's master electrician by last Monday, and they hung and focused this Monday. When the swatch board for the costumes showed up at the theater on Tuesday, it was officially too late for her to make any changes. And, it was only the swatch board for one act of the two-act show. She usually writes the cues for the show the week before, but you really can't do lighting until you've seen the costumes -- which, coupled with the fact that she's only got three hours on stage with dancers before they have an audience, is pushing her stress level over the top. I've never seen her this stressed over a show before.

And he's radically over budget -- which is impressive, given that two sets of costumes were apparently donated at no cost to the company. Best, his costumes have a reputation for being hard to dance in; I heard one former DK dancer describe the problems they had with the last show he designed for him, and it wasn't pretty. And, my favorite: when the choreographer/artistic director saw that one of the costumes was pretty undanceable and requested that the costumer remove the dangly bits (I should mention that directors are allowed and expected to ask for changes; it's in their job description), the costumer threw a half-hour hissy fit including a rant about how unprofessional it was, and a phrase that sounded a lot like: "This is what I get for working in Indiana, where they don't appreciate my art!" Let's see: he's late, over budget, prone to tirades, and his costumes are hard to dance in. He might be the last person who can legitimately call anyone else unprofessional.

And, personally, I hope he never decides to work in Indiana again. Or, at least not with DK; I don't want to watch Laura go though all the stress and trauma he's put her through. I actually like the guy, personally. But I think that the world would be a better place if nobody ever hired twitchy, unprofessional, temperamental designers. Let them learn the same set of professional skills as everyone else is expected to have. I'm tired of Art being used as an excuse for all kinds of unprofessional bullshit. It's a little embarrassing to be in an industry in which standards of professionalism are lower than they are for Taco Bell managers, any of whom would be fired for consistent tardiness, financial mismanagement, or whining tirades against the guy who hired him.

The thing I don't understand is that Laura doesn't seem to realize the source of all of her stress. I've been hearing her talk about the progress of the show for weeks now, and I've managed to synthesize the fact that the costume designer is responsible for all of her problems. Whenever I mention this blazingly obvious fact to her, she doesn't believe it. She defends him: he does beautiful work, he's an Artist and can't be expected to conform to silly societal norms like timeliness or budgets, his costumes are gorgeous and exciting, maybe it's her, et cetera. She has completely rationalized away the source of her problems because she likes his work so much.

I'm going to see the show tomorrow, so I'll see (hopefully) the finished costumes. All I can say is, they had better be fucking gorgeous. I'll let you know.

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