Why I do it.

Jenna Buraczewski, the Assistant Costume Designer for "Arabian Nights"

Jenna Buraczewski, the Assistant Costume Designer for “Arabian Nights”

Costume crew is not just a bunch of girls sitting around sewing and gossiping. It’s a group of dedicated people who choose to spend hours on end frantically fixing buttons so an actor can make their cue, running around to facilitate quick changes, and, well… sitting around sewing and gossiping.

Hi. I’m Jenna, if we haven’t already met. I’m the assistant costume designer (working under the ever amazing Emily Eckhart) and it’s my job to make sure actors have the right clothes when they need them, where they need them, and in good condition. I am constantly running around to make sure that one little button got sewn on and that the quick change for the next scene is set up. Most likely, I run up and down the costume room stairs dozens of times a day. It’s exhausting. I constantly have a list of what needs to be done, and every time I cross something off it, a new task magically appears.

Here’s how a normal show goes for me:

Costume Crew for "The Mikado"

Costume Crew for “The Mikado”

About two weeks after the last show, everything gets into gear. The first rehearsal is often the worst. We may not know who is playing who and therefore, we can’t plan much, so we just watch the hilarity that is actor warm ups. The next couple of weeks see an outline appear, and we sit and desperately pray Figg will change her mind about a few of the giant and difficult costumes she wants (something that rarely happens) and begin to pull a few costumes that we want to try on people. We soon decide who is going to need a full handmade costume. Next, we start to get most people costumed and start the custom designs. As we get more people costumed we make the mistake of feeling like we’re on schedule. Tech Week suddenly appears.

Tech is all night, full costume rehearsals starting on Friday and leading to the show the next Friday. This show had shorter rehearsals, but its still hours after school when we forget what sunlight is. This is crunch time. My ‘To-Do’ list suddenly becomes a four-page document. Clasps break, pants rip and collars get stained with stage makeup. Homework becomes a relic of the past. All I want is to go home and sleep. And then, we have to get up and do it again the next day. For a week. Then the big day comes; for me that means double-checking my list and fixing even more clasps that decided to break 10 minutes before the show.

Costume crew in the home... the girls dressing room

Costume crew in the home… the girls dressing room

During the show the running never stops with me making sure that quick changes run smoothly (or as smoothly as they can) and constantly dreading the moment an actor runs up to me frantically saying that their costume fell apart and they need to be on stage in 2 minutes. We do this for three (or four) days. Sunday, the last show always is a bit easier because we have the quick changes down pat.

Then we get to go home! Or not. It’s Strike time, so we get to spend the next several hours along with everyone involved in the show cleaning up any sign that there was even a show happening.

And if its the fall or winter show, we get to come back in a few weeks and do it all over again.

The Costume ladies at the  3rd Annual PATs Award Banquet!

The Costume ladies at the 3rd Annual PATs Award Banquet!

Just typing that was exhausting. Why do I do it? Why do any of the costume girls do it? The easy answer is that we’re just all insane. The other answer is that we love it (or are insane enough to love it… whatever works.) Sure, we sometimes feel quite unrecognised, very unappreciated and overworked, but we also feel like a community. Joining costumes makes you a member of a group of girls who are as insane as you, who would kill for you, and understand exactly why you’re in a awful mood (no sleep+constant stress = bad mood.) As a costume girl, you also become part of the Drama Club. A group of definitely insane people who will always keep an eye on you and make sure you’re ok.

We do it for each other. Yeah, seeing the final product and the audience is awesome, but looking at the people around you and saying “We did it. We put together a whole show!” is more amazing. Seeing all the pieces that had to go together and all the people that put those pieces there is really magical.

Here’s why I do it:

Alex, William, Sarah Mai, Mark, Tall Dan, Lococo, Alessandra, Lonnae, Johnny, Kia, Hannah, Jessie, Lilly, Emily B, Andrea, Miranda, Daniela, George, Sam G and all you lovely actors.

Nathan H, Mikah, Sarah H along with other awesome Seminar kids.

Clare, Nathan G, Nico, Tessa and the stage crew bosses.

Sarah V, Emma, Katherine and the makeup queens.

Becca, Cally, Zaharah, Sara I, Ali, Alo and all my costume lovelies.

Emily Eckhardt, mentor, boss and friend.

And of course, the person who makes this all possible: Figg.


That’s why I do it.

Written by: Jenna Buraczewski (2017)

Arabian Nights: Colorful Storytelling

Arabian Nights, adapted by Dominic Cooke, playing at the James Barr Auditorium in Mequon WI.  5000 W. Mequon Rd, 53092

May 1 and 2 @ 7:30pm
May 3 @ 2pm

Students $7
Adults $8

Or Donate a children’s book and get $1 off your ticket!!!

Shahrazad tells King Shahrayar her last story

Shahrazad tells King Shahrayar her last story

The play opens in ancient Persia, where King Shahrayar (William Toney) and his wife (Alessandra Gouverneur) live in happiness and rule over the kingdom with wisdom and kindness. This all changes when the king discovers his wife is having an affair with another man and puts her to death. He quickly falls into a great despair and declares that he will never give another woman a chance to cheat on him, taking wives for one night and then putting her to death the day after. This horrid reign of death plagues the land and threatens to cause an uprising among the people in the name of their murdered daughters. It is then that the royal advisor’s daughter Shahrazad (Alex Gieske) puts a plan into action to heal the king of his bitter life and save the kingdom from civil war.

Actor Jonathan Bartlett learned aerial tricks on the dance trapeze to play the Talking Bird

Actor Jonathan Bartlett learned aerial tricks on the dance trapeze to play the Talking Bird

She asks her father to marry her to the king and then, with the help of her younger sister Dinarzad (Sarah Mai), begins to tell the king a series of intriguing stories, holding his attention so tightly that he keeps her alive night after night in order to hear the next story. As her stories go on, they begin to show a trend of honor, mercy, and love, which she attempts to impart on Shahryār.

The production of Arabian Nights is preformed in a very Cirque Du Soleil fashion, with actors in highly colorful costumes representing landmarks, mythical beings, and animals instead of set pieces and props. Everything in the play is very vivid in its color and movement, keeping the attention of younger children while celebrating the color pallet of ancient Persian art.

Hannah Engel plays Marjanah, a slave girl who performed the "Dance of the Deadly Dagger."

Hannah Engel plays Marjanah, a slave girl who performed the “Dance of the Deadly Dagger.”

A cast of 18 actors play multiple roles in order to fill out the many different characters that the tales contain. The dialogue of the play is read as it is within a fairytale, with actors explaining what they are doing as they do it in order to maintain the direct narrative feel of the production. The actors also perform acrobatics, dancing, and other physical spectacles in order to add to the celebratory nature of the show.

It is fun, family friendly, and full of fantastic visuals to make it one of the more likable productions that has been seen at Homestead High School in recent memory.

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Fifth run without having costumes washed

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Video

Magical ‘Nights’ spins tales richly told

Andrea plays a theif in a barrel in one of the colorful stories

Andrea plays a theif in a barrel in one of the colorful stories

The magical stories of Shahrazad’s 1,001 Arabian Nights come to life with the simple combination of a storyteller’s hypnotic voice, a richly colored backdrop and some extraordinarily dexterous performances in the James Barr Auditorium at Homestead High School.  Adapter Dominic Cooke selects just four stories, ranging from the familiar Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves to the more obscure How Abu Hassan Broke Wind for a mix of tales that seem exotic at first but soon reveal familiar themes of jealousy, greed, bitterness, love, longing, and loss.

There’s a danger with Arabian Nights that the darker elements of the stories – executions, treachery and betrayal – can overshadow the entertainment value. That was true of an Mary Zimmerman’s production. But not in Homestead’s production. They injects humor throughout which stays just on the right side of silliness. There’s a touch of slapstick and in one of the tales a character suffers from a prolonged, embarrassing bout of flatulence – that had the whole audience in stitches.

Shahrazad, Alex Gieske, tells her last story to the King, Wiliam Toney

Shahrazad, Alex Gieske, tells her last story to the King, William Toney

William Toney gives an impressive performance as King Shahrayar whose anger melts when he finally recognizes true love; Mark Usatinsky excels in multiple roles ranging from the Vizier to a thief and guard; and Kia Pourmodheji plays with aplomb a variety of characters from Ali Baba to the Little Beggar.

The rest of the cast throw themselves into their roles with vigor.

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Performed at Homestead High School’s James Barr Auditorium.
5000 W. Mequon Rd
Mequon WI 53092

May 1 and 2 @ 7:30pm
May 3 @ 2pm

Students $7
Adults $8

Or Donate a children’s book and get $1 off your ticket!!!

The HHS Seniors of the AVID program are collecting children’s books for the Books for Kids at Next Door foundation.

The organization needs the following books:
– Infant/toddler board books
– Preschool picture/read to me type books (Dr. Suess, Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert, etc.)
– Early reading books for elementary kids.

The books can be new or gently used and will be given to children in need in the Milwaukee area.

Arabian Night’s Review

Alex Giekse plays the storyteller Shahrazad.

Alex Giekse plays the storyteller Shahrazad.

Dominic Cooke’s adaptation of these magical tales was first seen in London at the Young Vic in 1998. Based on One Thousand and One Nights, a collection of folk tales from the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, Arabian Nights is rich with suspense, romance and hilarity – stories irresistible for all ages, At its heart is the power of the imagination to heal, inspire, and transform.  One of the advantages of Arabian Nights is that whoever adapts it has 1,001 tales to choose from. Cooke’s version includes well-known stories such as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, and The Little Beggar. He’s kept it fresh by jettisoning Aladdin and inserting a couple which aren’t as well-known.

The result is a largely sparkling production which has something for all the family.

Here at Homestead, with a cast of 18 rather than the original nine, it blends exciting narrative with expressive movement: every bit as gripping, as it requires our imaginative collaboration. The premise is familiar: Shahrazad has to come up with a new story every night to save herself.

But what impresses most about Homestead’s production is the lightning speed of the storytelling and the physical transitions. In Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves the actors change in a second from galloping horsemen to the treasure in the cave to the thieves once again.

Shahrazad tells her sister, Sarah Mai, a story while the King, William Toney, listens

Shahrazad tells her sister, Sarah Mai, a story while the King, William Toney, listens

Several individuals shine out of a strong ensemble. Alex Gieske’s Shahrazad never lets us forget that her life depends upon her tale-spinning while Wiliam Toney’s king moves, like Shakespeare’s Leontes, from tyrannical rage to moral penitence. Kia Pourmodheji is all rubber-limbed vivacity as an irrepressible, fish-swallowing beggar, and Sam Ginkel reports for duty as Abu Hassan who detonates a theatre-shaking fart.

This irresistible production of Arabian Nights transports us to another world that reminds us of the power of storytelling, not only to take us outside of ourselves, but to recognize our common humanity.


May 1 and 2 @ 7:30pm
May 3 @ 2pm

Students $7
Adults $8

Or Donate a children’s book and get $1 off your ticket!!!

The HHS Seniors of the AVID program are collecting children’s books for the Books for Kids at Next Door foundation.

The organization needs the following books:
– Infant/toddler board books
– Preschool picture/read to me type books (Dr. Suess, Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert, etc.)
– Early reading books for elementary kids.

The books can be new or gently used and will be given to children in need in the Milwaukee area.

When People Keep Breathing Into Their Headset

 

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HHS 2015 Spring Play!

Arabian Nights Banner 2Students $7
Adults $8

Or Donate a children’s book and get $1 off your ticket!!!

The HHS Seniors of the AVID program are collecting children’s books for the Books for Kids at Next Door foundation.

The organization needs the following books:
– Infant/toddler board books
– Preschool picture/read to me type books (Dr. Suess, Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert, etc.)
– Early reading books for elementary kids.

The books can be new or gently used and will be given to children in need in the Milwaukee area.


Kia and Andrew playing brothers in "Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves"

Kia and Andrew playing brothers in “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves”

Full of mischief, valor, ribaldry, and romance, Arabian Nights has enthralled readers for centuries. These are the tales that saved the life of Shahrazad, whose husband, the king, executed each of his wives after a single night of marriage. Beginning an enchanting story each evening, Shahrazad always withheld the ending: A thousand and one nights later, her life was spared forever.

Alessandra playing a thief in a barrel!

Alessandra playing a thief in a barrel!

This is a classic children’s play that Homestead has taken on and made their own. Setting a frame story around the old Persian story, the tale starts in the 1950’s on a playground taken over by the neighborhood kids. Everyone is playing with their friends except one girl. She is enthralled in a book… Alf Layla wa-Layla, or the Tales of a Thousand and One Nights, her laughter and wonder intrigues the others and soon everyone is gathered around her as she begins her tale.

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