At certain times of the year it can feel as though every weekend has an awards ceremony. From the Oliviers to the BAFTAs, through WhatsOnStage, Evening Standard British Film awards, Offies, The Stage Awards and the Tonys. It’s easy to scoff that awards ceremonies are frivolous and mostly for publicity and back-slapping, but I disagree.
The award is an acknowledgment of the hard work, not just for the winner but for the team behind them. Those long thank-you speeches aren’t just about false modesty.
Cast, crew and creatives know how hard it is to make a show – the long hours and missed weekends, the number-crunching and creativity against the odds, the managing of frustration and joy. And for many that feeling is only the start of the journey; they will be running the show and trying to settle in to some kind of routine, bringing their A-game night after night.
For costume professionals, and others behind the scenes, the monetary rewards are not huge. Most work for the love of the medium and the satisfaction of a job well done, so when reviews and awards are the only reward, they matter.
Some steps have been made towards recognising the hard work of technicians and crew, such as the Technical Theatre Awards, which were launched in 2013. But mostly backstage professionals bask in the reflected glory of their show or theatre winning an award.
‘Those long thank-you speeches aren’t just about false modesty’
Happy for the actors to be out front and in the (frankly, terrifying) limelight, backstage workers feel successful when they are invisible to the public eye. But that doesn’t mean they don’t feel a sense of shared ownership when that best costume design award is handed out.
The costume designer is the captain of the team and when the captain wins, the team wins. It is an acknowledgement that it takes more than A-list stars to make great theatre.
It rewards the costume makers, supervisors, hire houses and assistants; dressers, wardrobe and wigs departments, milliners, dyers and breakdown artists and all who contribute.
But as much as it is great to be part of a winning team, sometimes it is good to have more direct acknowledgement of your hard work. The Stage Managers Association knew this when in addition to its awards it created the Stage Managers Appreciation Day.
Last year the Costume in Theatre Association decided to follow the SMA and created the Costume Professionals Appreciation Day on July 23. This year the hope is that costume professionals will share scenes from their working lives, shout out to the professionals they admire and make some social media noise using #LoveCostume2018 to celebrate their hard work and dedication.
I hope costume professionals across the UK and beyond will join in, and that all the glorious stage managers, cast, creatives and crew will contribute to this day of appreciation by including their own thoughts and thanks for the hard work of the costume team. Yes, it means nothing. And yet it means so much.
Next week: stage manager Katie Jackson