The curtain fell and the seats were empty. But that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening in Asolo’s repertoire her theater.
Summer has been a busy time getting ready for the next show, and it’s also given Asolo Rep a chance to keep track of props and costume supplies. Asolo Rep’s Costume His Shop His manager, David Covach, presides over the digitization of the company’s holdings, so a permanent record is kept of what’s in the closet.
It’s like your own spring cleaning, but only if you have over 70,000 clothing items. His Koski production center (originally the Wilson Sporting Goods distribution center), which looks like an Asolo Rep warehouse, houses decades of clothing worn in various productions, which Covach has used for decades. You need to keep an inventory of items you don’t have in mind.
“We legally have every corner and let firefighters stuff me with anything,” Covach says. There are some that are not used.”
please think about it. The Asolo Repertory Theater has put on countless shows over the decades.
And if the fancy dress could be used in the future, they haven’t thrown it away.
Covach and his assistants have done the hard work of keeping all of that in mind.
That means vintage suits and dresses, and distressed denim in all shapes and fashions. Do you have a pink frock from the 1940s? Yes, Covach may say, but then he’ll have to go find it.
So this summer, he assembled a team of four to start digitizing his inventory.
One person barcodes the item and another person writes down the description. A third person takes pictures of the items and a fourth person enters the data. If it is related to costumes, enter together.
“This summer, we expected to receive nearly 20,000 items, the first year,” says Covach. “I didn’t have as much time as I thought, and there weren’t as many people as I thought. After I joined the company, it took longer than I thought. I think I put in about 3,000 sheets in the end.”
That’s a lot of clothes. But what does it represent in the grand scheme of things?
“Oh my god, it’s a drop in the bucket,” Covach says. “It’s like his one line in our inventory.”
What’s interesting is that Covach is creating more costumes.
He recently spent $20,000 on fabric for 2023’s The Three Musketeers, which hadn’t been staged by Asolo Rep since 1995. the time they ran it.
Is there irony there? Not so, says Covach.
Even for the same show, you might want to see a completely different aesthetic depending on the director. The costumes are sized exactly to the actor wearing them, so they may not be used again for the next cast.
If so, why are they hanging on 60 years worth of clothes?
“Maybe it doesn’t matter,” says Covach. “But if I could change the look or add another feather, it would save me $150 here and there. I have all the raw materials. And if that’s a possibility, that’s why I save something.” But, of course, that’s what every hoarder says. “I’ll do something with it someday.” Let’s say they store three beads in a ziplock bag.
Covach said he expects inventory to take years and won’t stock every pair of socks and shoes. But year after year, he wants a better grasp of everything that’s on his record, not just in his own head.
“My job before the internet was 10 times worse,” he says. “Or 10 is easy because we went to JoAnn’s and got it. If it wasn’t at JoAnn’s, the show wouldn’t have it.”
And if there’s chaos in the clothing aisle, it’s just as wild in the prop department.
Production manager Mike Rogers recently gave Observer magazine a tour of the facility, where employees were toiling to create the set for “Opera Colorado.” One worker was sitting in the boat building it, while others were busy reupholstering the furniture.
Sets can take a year to go from concept to reality, Rogers says, and furniture is often custom-made for a specific production. Still, Asolo Rep keeps rows and rows of sofas, chairs, and other furniture.
“My boss often tells me it’s organized like Walmart: there’s an aisle for chairs, an aisle for sofas, an aisle for toasters,” says Rogers. “It will probably take years to digitize and catalog everything, and tracking it remains a nightmare.”
For now, the staff is on an honor system, he says. Put everything back where you found it.
Frank Paul, senior property master at Asolo Rep, spends time getting familiar with all of the inventory during the COVID-19 shutdown, estimating it will be a six- or eight-year project to create a detailed inventory. increase.
“You can’t put barcodes on your forks,” he says. “I have vases, forks, cutlery, plates for days. So many things that are part of so many things. There are lamp parts. You can not.
“When I started writing Sweeney Todd, I took two coffee cans and two gooseneck lamps and made a train lantern out of them. I may have two lanterns, never use them again.”
Paul says he’ll never know everything in his inventory, but if he borrows something from another organization, he wants to make sure he has a complete record of what went out. They take pictures, make lists, and create packets for both themselves and the organization that rents the items.
Part of the job, says Rogers, is to take the set and make it exactly the way the director wants it. It could mean making it smaller or adding wheels to it.
The process is never-ending and can literally be an ongoing concern right up to the opening curtain. Therefore, it is useful to have many treasures. Because you never know what will come in handy next.
In time, Kovac’s clothing will be moved to another space as the next phase of the Koski Center expansion occurs. Paul is already eyeing these columns and hopes to be able to place more props in them.
“David was like, ‘What are you going to do with the space when you remove all the costumes?'” says Paul. “We’re going to get a lot more stuff. You don’t have to play Jenga here. It feels like a parking lot for your favorite game. Take this and move here, and you’ll be behind We can get the stuff, we need to put it back in its place so we can pull it out.”