Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Presidents Day Redux

Happy Presidents Day, one day late! And, according to one of the roughly 2500 documentaries I watched yesterday about the Presidents, this tardiness might have been accepted in the Clinton administration, but definitely not in the junior Bush's. Just a little tidbit I thought I'd pass on.

Because we are so close to DC, we have had the chance to work with the White House Historical Association, among other organizations, to create historical costumes relating to politics and DC for various events and anniversaries. Today, Marilyn shares some of her experiences with the White House Historical Association:

"The first project I did with the White House Historical Association is called First Kids and the focus is on the children who have lived in the White House while their Dads were President. Each vignette is based on true stories. The idea is that these kids and their stories are presented and then the students get to dress in the costumes and act it out.
This program goes into the elementary schools in the area and brings the costumes I made with them. The design parameters were that they had to be historically accurate, washable, wrinkle-resistant, durable, multi-sized and easy-on/easy-off over the students clothes. I was provided with pictures to work from along with the script.

"I created costumes for Theodore Roosevelt (pants, frock coat, vest, shirt, cravat) and 2 of his sons…a nightgown for one and a sailor suit for the other. I also created a white cowboy suit for Roy Rogers…the one we all used to see on TV. That was for the re-enactment of David Eisenhower’s 10th birthday party at the White House hosted by his grandfather, President Dwight Eisenhower. Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were guests who performed for the party.

"The second project I did with them is called the Path to Freedom and again is based on actual events. This one is geared to middle and high school and the students go to Decatur House in DC and there’s a house tour followed by a presentation about Abe Lincoln and the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation during the New Year’s Day reception hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. It was also Katie Sewell’s Coming Out party (her father was Secretary of State, he’s the one who bought Alaska from Russia so it was called Sewell’s Folly and the family is from Westfield NY just up the road from where I used to live) (Westfield is also the home of Welch’s Grape Juice, it started there before the company bought Ocean Spray about 25 years ago and moved the headquarters to Boston)

"The design parameters were the same but this time I made 35 costumes, dressing Abe and Mary Lincoln, Katie Sewell, Admiral Foote, General Ulysses Grant, a couple of Supreme Court judges, the British and French Ambassadors, Elizabeth Keckly and many more.

"After the presentation and tour, the students act out the entire reception complete with the signing. It’s all captured on film and the class receives a CD of their performance.
I worked from tons of historical photos provided by the White House Historical Assoc….they are fabulous to work with….I sub-contracted with 7 stitchers for the project and figured out a million details that allowed the costumes to look accurate and yet be washable, multi-sized, etc. I don’t want to brag, but I really came up with some clever things that I’ve never seen before or since."

We're currently in the middle of a rehaul of our website and photo archives, but hopefully very soon we will be able to share some images of these costumes.

If you got the chance to put on the show of your choice with the White House Historical Association, what would be about? Who would you play?

No comments: