Cumbersome clothes as a metaphor for life
Hi. I’m Rosemary, playing the part of Anna in ‘The Day After the Fair’. I'd been looking forward to playing love-struck servant, Anna, for a few reasons: the play is based on a short story by Hardy, whose tragic characters I love; it's a story of romance, which I'm inclined to indulge in now and again; and, (and this is the biggie), it's a period drama, and I haven't done one of those in yonks. Period dramas, for me, mean complex characters, beautiful language and - here it comes - costumes! I was so excited to get my mitts onto some Victorian clothing. I was ready for the bustles, hankering after the blouses, itching to wiggle my fingers into pretty lace gloves.
And then I met my rehearsal skirt.
I eagerly tied its mass of heavy material around my middle and prepared to perfect my graceful Victorian stride. The skirt had other ideas. This floor-length garment has trapped itself under furniture, swept props from low surfaces, and - during one hearty attempt to wear it at home - it got caught under my feet whilst my hands were full and left me stranded on the stairs. I am not the only one to struggle! Lulu, my fellow maid, has taken to lifting her skirt up entirely when trying to move anywhere quickly. June is coping a little better - but this may be down to her choosing the prettiest, (and I suspect lightest), rehearsal skirt for herself. And Verity, who will be playing the lady of the house, has, it should be noted, taken to not wearing hers at all.
The struggle is real. But, I suppose, it was back then too. United in a plight to stay upright in our clothing, the female members of this cast can perhaps begin to understand the empathy and support Hardy's women show each other in Frank Harvey's adaptation. The restrictions Victorian society puts upon these characters go far beyond inconvenient clothing, (as you will see when the play opens), and the kindness and support they provide to each other is, at times, their only source of strength. I will be remembering this underlying struggle and comradery as we attempt to navigate the stage in a series of beautiful, impractical costumes - and I hope you will bear it in mind too, if at any point you see Lulu trying to subtly pick me back up off the floor.
Rosemary Terry, May 4, 2017