On December 6th, 2016, I was chosen to come on board the north American tour for Cirque Du soliel's, youngest show, "Kurios: Cabinet of curiosities." This time, they were in Miami, coming from their New York city run. I was ecstatic! This was my first time working back stage for a major production, outside of a fashion show. During the 2-month run, I had some ups and downs and valuable lessons learned. I made a very close friend, Courtney Philips, whose wedding I just attended as well as forming some very strong allies. From doing laundry everyday, to costume repair, I felt like I was doing what I wanted to do. (Sans the laundry.)
Now that the city run has ended and I've had time to sleep for 10 hours, I wanted to share my story and how it's added much more than "experience' to my wardrobe arsenal. Check out my list below of what it's like working for the legendary Cirque Du Soliel.
It must be done every night. Yes, EVERY night. With a show of this magnitude, it isn't cost efficient to outsource laundry duties for fear it might not be done right (lost items, rips, late returns etc.) This means laundry is brought along tour, on a semi truck and set up in every city. After every show, laundry is done and hung to dry in between floor and ceiling fans. Nothing is put in a dryer, and some items require hand washing.
2. BACKSTAGE QUE'S
Everybody's got 'em. At the sound of this drum, you go here. When this costume walks by, lift this. Any theater major or drama kid knows this, but coming from a fashion background, it is very different. Everything has it's purpose and If something is placed in an awkward position, LEAVE IT in it's awkward position. Que's are what every well oiled production is built on. If you miss one, or late to any, not only is the show at risk for delay, but prepare to lose your job.
Although I was more of a backstage dresser, than in costuming, my job was not limited to helping guys get ready for their next act. I was on stand by before the show, to help costuming with WHATEVER they needed. This included hand sewing cones, seam ripping entire costumes, and removing makeup from mustaches. Yes, mustaches. The mustaches were lace strips, similar to the wigs we ladies wear. So everyday they needed to be cleaned with rubbing alcohol, and new adhesive added so the artists can get ready when it comes time for makeup.
4. 2 show days
A typical week consist of 6 days, with one day off being Monday. Between Tuesday and Thursday, there is only 1 show per night. However, when it comes to the weekend, FRI, SAT & SUN can be brutal. My partner and I work closely during the week, so we have to come together and work smart to get everything done. Our shifts are usually 3pm to 12am, and a 1.5 hour break till the next show. Within this 1.5 hour window, we must pre set for the next show, pre set for the riggers above the stage (the grid), collect laundry, set machines, take our lunch, be back in time to grab laundry and hang them to dry before they call for the next show. let's just say I refused to do my own laundry when I got home.
Russia, Kazakhstan, France, Taiwan, Mongolia, Spain... it was a global community under one tent. I loved it! You could be at one table with 4 different languages going all at once. Many artists have become bilingual due to traveling with the show, where myself, started picking up on my French. I ate something from a different country at least every week, and taught my Mongolian contortionist friend, a few things about black history. I learned what a "Russian cradle" was, and why you should never walk across a performer who is about to go on stage. (Don't ask)
All in all, theater life may not be for me, however, I'm glad that I mastered it during this tour. I got to meet a lot new people and call many, "Friends". check out the video below.