WHAT TO DO DURING A COSTUME MALFUNCTION – Jes DeGroot
Live theatre is electric. For me, and I’m sure for many of you, there is nothing like stepping onto a stage in front of a live audience. It’s simply magical. But, what happens when you look down, and realize something with your costume has gone wrong, terribly wrong? That magical moment turns into horror. Do you scream and run off stage? Fall to the floor and coolly slither like a snake until you exit stage right? Or grab the nearest prop and hide behind it until the curtain goes down? You’re on stage remember, everyone’s eyes are upon you. And your cast members are still counting on you to deliver your lines. So how do you deal with it? Yes, you are mortified, but the first thing to remember is NOT to draw attention to the problem. This is the hardest part. Try your best to stay in character and don’t let the audience see you panic! Perhaps you can cleverly make it part of the scene. Maybe there is a prop you are near and you can casually walk behind and quickly fix the problem. But sometimes, you just have to pretend there is no problem. Yes, it might be TOTALLY embarrassing, but the show MUST go on. And as a certain theatre teacher always says, “It’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up!” 😉
I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to share my MEMS (most embarrassing moment on stage) with you. Usually, I just like to pretend it never happened, but… it did. So here goes. Some years ago when I was playing a bluebird in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, my skirt kept on falling down during my number. There I was, center stage, as it crept past my hips. Down it slid. My arms were supposed to be fluttering like a bird’s wings. Carefully I worked at pulling it up each time my hands were anywhere near my skirt. Finally, I was able to carefully hide myself behind a taller actor and quickly pull it up. Costume malfunction adverted! Or so I thought. I performed the rest of my scene and then headed off stage. To my horror, I realized that I had tucked the back of my skirt INTO my tights. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I had somehow made a hole in my tights which seemed to grow with each step I took. Yes, I pranced around on stage showing everyone my bright white undies!! Let’s just say from one who has been there, wardrobe malfunctions are the WORST!
Okay, I’ve shared my MEMS with you. I’d love to hear yours!! What happened and how did you get through it? Maybe if we can gather our MEMS here, we can use them to keep each other encouraged each time one of those… fun moments enters our lives. That way we can laugh over them together and look upon them as moments of growing instead of horrific nightmares. ☺