The Tenant of Wildfell Hall was another favourite show of mine – I love the book by Anne Bronte and I think her characters have such dignity and determination.
Most of the costumes for this show were hired, it is set in two very different periods of time and has a lot of characters, so it was the most cost-effective way of doing it. We made a few bits and pieces, including a painting apron, out of this blue cotton, for Helen Graham. Her main occupation is painting so this was a practical garment to protect her clothes but also showed her seriousness in her craft.
As sometimes happens when you make costumes, with this apron, once it was made, we then spent time making it look worn and dirty. The Stage Management department had bought paints and a pallet for Phoebe, who played Helen, to use and we used the same paint colours on the apron, to make it look as though she frequently wiped her hands or brushes on it. We also wore out areas around the pockets and hem, using sandpaper and a cheese grater, to age the garment and make it look well used.
Never work with children and animals is an old adage often heard in theatre. For this production we had both!
Helen Graham has a young son, so we had two actors to cover the role, as children are not allowed to perform every day; the character of Gilbert Markham, a young farmer who falls in love with Helen, has a dog. So, we had two border collies who alternated the role, and were exceptionally well trained.
As the show then transferred to York Theatre Royal, more children and dogs were then needed local to that theatre.
Adding the next patch –
I have used feather stitch with French knots as the decorative stitch for this patch, as mentioned in previous chapters.
I hope you have enjoyed these chapters and have maybe begun to create your own crazy patchwork, please share your pictures with us if you have.
There will be more to come on the Octagon crazy patchwork project; I’m not sure it’s possible for us to ever run out of fabrics, costumes and stories.
Thank you for following this series!