Even though opening night is not until the end of June, the Great River Shakespeare Festival cast and crew have arrived in Winona and are hard at work.
For the past several years, Meg Weedon — who this year will be designing costumes for “The Merry Wives of Windsor” — has been staying with us until her room is ready in WSU’s East Apartments. Meg is from New York City, where she works for a costume house. One of their latest jobs was to create the costumes for the musical “Aladdin,” which is running on Broadway. She will be in Winona until opening weekend, when her job is done, and she will travel back to NYC to her husband, John, and her cat.
In the meantime, she is gone from early morning to early evening, preparing the costume room, taking measurements of cast members, and beginning the work of creating what we will see on stage. She is joined by a fellow costume designer, and others who stitch the costumes, make the actors’ accessories, tend to the wigs, and generally work like crazy until opening night.
Much of her creative work was done before she arrived in Winona. She worked with the director, Paul Barnes, whose vision she must make appear on stage. When they settle on a time period for the play, Meg must call on her knowledge of the history of dress to make sure the costumes reflect the period. She must also devise color schemes for the costumes that will fulfill Barnes’ vision.
As part of the process, Meg makes a drawing of each character in costume, and finishes the sketches with watercolors. We watched her paint a few of the drawings she had not completed before she arrived, and my granddaughters were quite taken with the whole process. Meg was gracious enough to let them paint on some extra copies she had of the drawings one evening.
The next night, before Meg arrived home from work, the kids again wanted to paint, found the art kit that I gave them for Christmas and went to town. She has inspired them to create, rather than sit in front of the television or computer screen.
After the kids are off in bed, Meg and I watch a little television. We have found that we are both fans of a few select shows. I just watch them, but Meg knows who the actors are, what characters they have played in other shows, and all sorts of other trivia. I think I would be a total bust at a gathering of theater people. I just know what I like! And I like hosting Meg. She, like the other GRSF people, love to come to Winona for the summer. And we love having them create such a magical season of Shakespeare for us.