Read below as Together Apart host Ryan Nuss interviews Costume Director Micheal Heath Waid about the masks our costume shop has been making for the Texas community!
What do you do for Dallas Theater Center?
I am the Costume Director.
How long have you been in [your] role?
For two years. My anniversary was March 19!
What has the costume shop been up to in these social distancing days?
When we first started our sheltering-at-home, isolation adventure, we had just gotten the scripts for next season. So that was our first goal was “Oh! Let’s read through the scripts like we always do and do the appropriate paper work related to that in the costumes.” In addition to that, we started some online training. We were able to find some things related to management and tailoring—sewing-specific or costume-specific things. A few of us, specifically the wardrobe crew, started taking Spanish lessons. We’ve partnered with Education on a fun collaboration about Production (see here). Outside of that, we’ve taken to making masks for medical professionals.
We’ve partnered with the Dallas Opera and ATTPAC, so those are slowly coming together. It’s been a bit of a struggle getting supplies. We have some fabric but the bendable nose pieces were a bit hard to come by. The typical mask has little elastic bits on the edges to go around your ears. Elastic is a hard commodity to come by right now because everyone has decided to make masks so all these supplies have started disappearing. And shipping times have skyrocketed…Some things are happening, it’s just not as fast as I thought it would be.
I remember Matt Duvall (Props Carpenter) saying his wife, Bree, her unit is the COVID unit at the hospital and they’re in charge of setting up safety videos and training procedures for safety requirements. And the fact that we were able to give to that I think is amazing.
It’s great. I’ve gotten a lot of information from Matt about the things they need or specific things about different kinds of masks and which ones are useful, which ones aren’t, what they would actually want to accept. It’s been interesting doing research into that kind of thing “What’s special about masks?” Because traditionally they’re not just cotton. Cotton, at least currently, the acceptance isn’t high. It should be a different material. But according to Matt and Bree they said that there are some studies going on right now about the efficacy of cotton usage in masks. I don’t know if that’ll be completed any time soon but they’re at least looking into it to see. Cause what if this continues and what if this becomes a bigger problem than it currently is. We’re gonna need more.
What a deep dive. Whoever thought that we’d be researching masks, PPE equipment. So what are the tools in some of the fabrics that you all need as a costume department to be able to make these masks? And everyone at home.
We’re all at home and of course our living situations are different so some of us, it’s not a big deal. They have a sewing set-up in their home already. It is a big deal for me because I live in a small apartment. I don’t really have space. I don’t have a dedicated sewing place at all so I have a folding table that I borrowed from the shop that I’ll set up and tear down every time and that’s where I cut, once I get to the point of sewing, that’s where I’ll sit. I just use my regular little home ironing board. It’s just a little makeshift thing and there are a couple of us like that.
I love the idea that there are big companies like Under Armour doing this same kind of thing. But being a part of a nonprofit arts organization and making this happen, using the resources that we have even as makeshift as they may be, we’re still getting to participate and contribute to the cause of fighting this virus and it’s really amazing to see.
Read our official release here!