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2014 Old Sacramento Performer Missives Page

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Historic Old Sacramento (HOS) 2014
~ Red Barn Players Missive Supplement #4.1
~ June 26

The Costume Missive
and Notes on the Street

Come to workshops prepared with this information!

Here it is! The Costume Missive Supplement

~ all you need to know about dressing for Time Travel Weekends,


~ Creating that very important theater in the streets of Sacramento City.

In this missive:

Costumes - A Valuable Tutorial
Notes on the Street - Crafting Theater in Old Sac
Previous Missives - And how to sign up
Contacts - How to be in touch

Costumes ~ a valuable tutorial for Time Travel Weekends

It's hard to believe that it is almost time to move back into the 1850s and Old Sacramento! I am very much looking forward to this summer. You may actually find me on the streets in costume!!

I hope by now that everyone who is either working on, or close to completing any new costumes for this year. If you have not contacted me for approval, please do so ASAP.

I am in the process of writing a costume guideline for Time Traveler Weekends. Until it's completed, here are a few highlights to remember:

The information located there will give you the general silhouette for both men and women. Fabrics are lighter in both color and weight for the summer.

  • Our costume timeline (which is different than our historical recreation timeline) is 1849-1859

  • Some sort of head covering should be worn by everyone. At all times.

  • We would like to see a wide variety of citizens on the streets of Sacramento City. Not all of these were well dressed and fashionable. The miners wore their clothes till they were in tatters. Women, especially those who were fresh off the Overland trail, were also often in rags.

  • Pants and skirts are worn at the natural waistline, which is much higher than modern styles. To find your natural waistline, bend to the side with your hands on your waist. The natural waistline is where the bend happens.

  • Basic woman's costume: boots, socks, bloomers, chemise, corset, petticoat or hoops, dress or skirt/blouse, period hairstyle, and head covering.

  • Basic Man's costume: Boots, socks, trousers, suspenders (button-on), shirt (collarless or with a standing collar), cravat or kerchief, waistcoat (vest), frock coat (optional) and hat.

Weather & Costumes

The weather for this summer is projected to be very hot. Even those of you who are natives to Sacramento need to be careful. Because of this I am adjusting the guidelines on costuming and fashion for this summer.

  • Ladies and girls: Check out Lynn McMaster's pattern: US Civil War Period Summer hat

  • Bonnets are still welcome and add a certain cachet and out of timeliness for our show.

  • Decorated flat straw hats are also appropriate and excellent for keeping one shaded.

  • Men: You are not required to keep your jackets on all day. However, please keep your waistcoat buttoned and your cravat neatly tied.

  • Cotton is your friend.

  • The Dollar Store often sells neck coolers. Please purchase in light colors so they blend in with your shirt, or for men and boys, choose a red bandana look. I will check my local store and see if they have any. I will at least bring examples to workshops. Here is an example: -- evaporative cooling bandana polymer

Costume Responsibility

Similar to Dickens Fair and the Renaissance Faire of old, we ask that our participants provide their own costumes. These costumes need to conform to the historical requirements that are discussed in classes, individual meetings, and on the Dickens Fair website. (And soon in our very own Time Travel Weekends guidelines!) There is no doubt that this hobby is an expensive one. We do not expect you to have it perfect the first year, but we do have an expectation that you will upgrade and improve your look each year that you continue to participate. If I have asked you in previous years to change something about your costume, please do so. IF you are not sure what needs to be done, please contact me at [email protected]. You are part of an ensemble cast. Our goal is to do our very best to portray the time period as accurately as possible, both in costume and behavior.

At this time I would like to remind you that our costume closet is VERY limited. It is primarily for emergencies. We have been working to expand our stock for TTW but this takes time and cannot always cover all contingencies. If you are cast as a character in a show, it is your responsibility to provide your own costume, not only for that show, but for what you wear on the street. Some rentals may be available, but only if they are requested 2-3 weeks in advance.

Please, if you invite your friends to come play for a day, do not expect that there will be something for them to wear. While we love to have new people join us, there is a certain amount of work that needs to be done to create an outfit and also to clean it afterwards. No matter how long the costume is worn it will need to be laundered/cleaned. It has been frustrating in the past to spend an hour or more with potential recruits only to have them come back after the first parade and decide it's not for them.

Contact Liz Martin with any questions and to seek approval for costume ideas:

[email protected]

Notes on The Street ~ creating theater in Old Sac

Dear friends: This summer, we require all Time Travel Weekend performers (including stage performers) to spend some time in the streets. We ask you to develop a handful of 'street bits' that involve interactions with guests and fellow performers.

This is fun homework. Prepare a half dozen topical phrases in your vest pocket/bodice ready to use to engage.

Lucrezia Vivaldi (of the Bella Donnas) uses an example by C3PO in 'Star Wars':

"Did you hear that? They shut down the main reactor. We'll be destroyed for sure. This is madness! There will no escape for the princess this time." In 5 short lines C3PO tells a back story with urgency that affects everyone.

Adopt this simple technique; use important topics of interest in our 1848 -1870 time period, which should come easily, since we've been working it for four years. Make it both personal to your character, and add general historical newsworthy items.

Some topic examples:

  • Raising of the streets due to the floods & resulting devastation.

  • Death(s) from the resulting cholera epidemic, (i.e., the loss of human lives and livestock).

  • The impending Squatters' Riot (add where and when it will take place).

  • The shows at the Eagle (and times) and the star performers coming to play in Sacramento City!

  • A Pony Express rider's arrival with the mail.

  • Arrival of the funeral train with the body of President Lincoln.

  • The scandalous Lola Montez humiliating Henry Seekamp, newspaper editor of the Ballarat Times, by whipping him in the streets.

  • Gold being discovered at Sutter's Mill!!

  • Arrival of the suffragists and their imminent scandalous demonstration in the street.

Find topics that inspire you because your character has a stake in it. Endow the audience as having a vested interest in them too. This immediacy brings great life. It involves our guests in what is happening in the moment of our time period. And it informs that we are serious about fun time travel playing.

Don't forget to use period speak; the slang & language resources in "Uncle Well's Guide to period words and phrases" are a great resource, and Wells will have them for you at workshops.

Contact Jeffrey Weissman with questions and ideas:

[email protected]

Previous Missives - and Signing Up for the Missives

Please review previous missives to answer many questions. To read past missives, subscribe to the missive list, or change your e-mail address, click this link:

Please send anyone who asks about the missives to the above address.

Contacts - The RBP Directors and how to find them:

Historically Yours,

Robert and the directors team
at Red Barn Productions

For communication regarding this or any HOS missive, contact:
Robert Young
Missive Maven
Historic Old Sacramento's Time Travel Weekends
[email protected]

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