For much of known history, theatre productions have been synonymous with immodesty. There's no good reason for this, so I was delighted to witness a production that paid great attention to modesty, ensuring that all cast members, especially the girls, were modestly covered and yet still had freedom of movement for their active roles.
Nina Donkin and the crew of mainly teenagers produced "Psalty and the Take-Your-Time Machine" during the last week of May, giving four shows in Palmerston North, New Zealand.
The show was fun, the cast superb, and the visual display at every stop on the time machine was interesting and attractive. The dances were graceful, charming, and modest.
I remember the last time I danced on stage without adequate clothing. I took ballet classes until I was 14, then switched to tap. I didn't gain much skill with this because I was inadequately shod, but I liked one thing very much. No leotard was required. I could wear clothes for lessons.
The second year of my tap studies, the teacher planned a production featuring all branches of her dance school. Suddenly I found myself required to trot out on the town hall stage to "Singing in the Rain" wearing black shiny leggings and leotard and a sparkly waistcoat and bow tie. The costume choice didn't make any sense to me. Who goes walking in the rain with an umbrella and a leotard??
I thought, "Well, that's not so bad. I am all covered," but I didn't feel comfortable about it.
Later that year, I showed to a group of friends a photo of myself in the "Singing in the Rain" number. A guy friend looked at it and exclaimed, "Oo-oowh."
He wasn't being facetious. It was his natural reaction to the way I was dressed. I was ashamed that I'd provoked this in him and decided there and then, "No more."
The next time I performed on stage, it was my own item and I chose my costume, which was attractive, colourful, and didn't call attention to my shape.
Applying a second skin of fabric does not make you modest. Modest covering means concealing your body's shape. This can be done with flexibility, style, and visual delight, as Nina and her team amply proved in the Kids Praise show.
|In the dressing room after the show, Debbie Donkin explains to Narelle the history of the Solomon's Temple outfit. Daughter Nina found in Debbie's wardrobe the sparkly jersey her mother had knitted and asked if the costume department could borrow it.|
Next week, Modesty in Theatrical Productions Part 2, with more Psalty photos, theatrical anecdotes, and tips for choosing what to wear on stage.
|Narelle lingers to capture the dressing room mood.|
|Backstage with cast and crew members of "Psalty and the Take-Your-Time Machine"|