Friday, July 1, 2011

Should We Let the Show Go On? (Part 2)

Continuing from Part 1 of "Modesty in Theatrical Productions"

One of the first dance theatricals I witnessed was in the final concert of a creative Christian youth conference my brother attended. I don't remember the creative outpouring that he was involved with, but I do remember a bunch of girls who depicted a "good morning, time to wake up" scene, spread around the stage perimeter slumbering in their sleeping bags. Birds chirped, the sun rose, and they awoke and flitted and floated around the stage to this song:

Thank you, Lord, for such a beautiful day.
It reminds me of the love you gave to me.
I want to reflect your love to the people that I meet.

In a scene like this, would you expect the actors to be wearing pyjamas or nightgowns? That's what 12-year-old Narelle expected to slide out from all those sleeping bags. But no. What came out? Shiny neon unitards. My enjoyment of the song was spoiled as I pondered the bizarreness of it.

Nina Donkin and the crew of "Psalty and the Take-Your-Time Machine" ensured that the costuming told the story and kept the cast modestly covered.

Tips for Choosing What You Wear on Stage

First, is it appropriate? Does it tell the story?
Second, is it modest? What does it look like from where the audience is seated?

Then you can get more specific...

Will you be seated on stage?
  • Keep your knees together!
  • Does your hem come below your knees when you're seated?
If at all possible, do not sit directly facing the audience. Remember that lounge style seating shortens your hem more than dining chairs do. If you're required to sit on the floor, practice getting up and down without exposing yourself. There are ways to do this that are modest and elegant. Have someone sit in the audience to tell you how you're getting on. I recommend sitting with your knees together, turned sideways. If you're sitting on steps, turn your knees sideways.

The cast of "Psalty and the Take-Your-Time Machine". Psalty on the right. Time machine on the left.

If you're dancing, wear layers that keep you covered when you're flapping your legs about. Bulkiness created by piles of petticoats actually looks really good on stage.

If you're spinning, test that the fullness of your skirt is not so great that it reveals as much to the audience as it would without the skirt (but with more titillation). Again, if fullness is required, petticoat layers are brilliant.

If you don't want bulk, another trick is to weight the hem by sewing lead pellets into it (or anything similarly small and heavy) and applying a rim of gathered netting to the hem of the skirt lining.

Check that your movement doesn't expose your bosom either by the neckline drooping or the sleeves gaping.

Check that your movement doesn't expose your midriff. If the shirt is tucked in, ensure it will stay tucked in. If it's an overshirt, ensure that it's long enough to keep you covered when you raise your arms.

If at any point you are backlit, check that your outfit is opaque.

I close with an anecdote warning of when the telling of the story overpowers appropriateness.

A Christian teacher who supported modesty at school won the part of Mrs Potiphar in a theatre production of "Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat". I hoped she would give the role a decorum that had not been present when I saw a high school production of it. I heard that she wasn't happy with how tight her costume was, but I wasn't prepared for the full revelation. She sashayed on stage in a gold lycra coccoon that left little to the imagination and earned for her the drooling accolade of 'svelte and sexy'.

I wonder what reasons she gave herself for portraying this role and dressing in this manner. It tells the story? It's only acting? At least I'm covered?

Remember that our Creator does not excuse 'any means toward an end'. He has given us a standard, and He promises to judge each of us for every thought, deed, and intention of our heart. Ask yourself: "Will the Lord Jesus Christ be honoured by the way I am dressing? Am I seeking to please Him in everything I do?" I urge you to let this be your guideline.

When they say "Let the show go on", let it mean for us not that we continue to show our bodies to the world, but that we are displaying the glory and beauty of Christ through our humble, gracious conduct.

During downtime backstage, the children of the cast made scoobies for Psalty director Nina. Narelle watches Nina's efforts to wear all 44 scoobies at once.
Nina poses for photographer Steven Sandbrook, by whose generosity you're getting to see these production photos.
What sort of show are you putting on?

Signed photographs courtesy of Steven Sandbrook of Steven Sandbrook Photography.

1 comment:

MInTheGap said...

Thanks for this post-- it's true, it can be hard to be modest in a production, and yet it can be done!

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