At the end of this year, I will no longer be the head of costume at the Young Vic. Just typing that sentence feels weird. It is an amazing thing to start disentangling yourself from a building that you have been a part of for 13 years.
There’s sorting the computer-based files and folders and ensuring that my personal stuff is separated from the work stuff. This would be nothing to someone now, but I did not even have an email address when I started in 2006.
Then there is the inevitable nesting that has taken place: the books, cards, equipment and spare clothing – more than a suitcase of stuff that needs packing up and removing. And I am, of course, determined to ensure that my successor inherits a department that is up to code, with health and safety documentation all present and correct, the costume store neat and tidy and the new laundry room up and running so they can concentrate on the work at hand.
To look around the department now, it is hard to believe that I was taken around the site in a hard hat when I came for my second interview. Tidying and going through the store has led, unsurprisingly, to some trips down memory lane.
When I first started, the head of production gave me little instruction other than to make it mine. I took that completely to heart and ran with it. That’s not to say the first year didn’t almost kill me. The inaugural show was a community opera with more than 80 cast members, mostly community members and many children, which was a trial by fire.
But the show, Tobias and the Angel, was also beautiful. It represented the Young Vic’s engagement with the wider community in a meaningful way and it gave me a peep into the future. The years of participation and inclusion, how it brought unique and interesting voices to a genuinely representative audience, and the amazing shows that I loved to watch over and over again and was proud to be a part of.
It has not all been sunshine and roses. There have been disappointments as well as triumphs. Even in a supportive building, my campaigns for higher pay for designers and costume supervisors still come up against the cold reality of a publicly funded theatre budget.
But none of that can overshadow the sheer joy of working in a building you have loved for so long, with the amazing people you’ve had the opportunity to work with and the legacy of those productions out in the world – in the West End, in New York, on tour – knowing that those shows are living beyond you and the building.
It has been an amazing 13 years, so to all the amazing people I have worked with, thank you – for the work, the education, the good times, the long hours, the takeaways, the tears and the laughter. It has been a joy.
Catherine Kodicek is outgoing head of costume at London’s Young Vic theatre. Read more of her columns at thestage.co.uk/author/catherine-kodicek