5 minutes with… Frances Pyper, QB’s Wardrobe Assistant

28 Mar

As the Company make their way to Zhengzhou after performing in Qingdao Grand Theatre, let’s hear what QB’s lovely Wardrobe Assistant Frances Pyper had to say before she left. Read on for a wonderful insight into the world of wardrobe…

What’s your role at QB?

I am the Wardrobe Assistant. This mainly involves making the costumes, dressing the dancers, maintaining the costumes during productions and looking after the storage of costumes. Plus a myriad of other tasks that add more interesting challenges to an ever changing work load.

What will be your job on tour?

I will mainly be dressing the dancers, looking after the maintenance of costumes, and packing and preparing the costumes between each of the venues.

Is this your first trip to China?

Yes. I don’t know much about China or the culture – I’m really looking forward to a completely new experience: a new culture, language and architecture.

Frances Pyper, Wardrobe Assistant

Have you been on tour with the Company before?

Yes. I’ve been touring with the Company for 10 years. I’ve been on all of the annual  Queensland regional tours, and also to Singapore and Europe.

Do you enjoy touring?

I love it. I love the adrenalin and the closeness with which you work with everyone.

What will be in your suitcase?

The costumes that weren’t ready when the shipping container left for China in early February. These are the costumes for the Princess, the King, the Prince and the Sea Witch. And my personal items of course – I’ll definitely be taking some warm clothes!

What are you most excited about seeing in China?

Temples – I’m interested by ancient history. And I’d like to visit a costume museum if we have time.

Finishing off the Prince's costume

Tell us what a typical day on tour will be like for you.

I’ll get up at about 6am. I like to start my day with some Yoga. I’ll then head to the theatre to prepare the costumes (wash, iron, mend and put in position). There is then a rehearsal for the dancers in the afternoon. Following this I’ll re-prepare the costumes for the evening’s performance. After the performance I’ll pack all the costumes away, and then fall into bed!

How long have you been preparing for the tour?

We packed the costumes at the end of January, but we started fitting the dancers for their costumes at the end of last year. We’ve been busy finishing off the remaining costumes, and I’m currently putting the final touches to the Prince’s court shirt.

How will the costumes be transported from city to city?

In a travelling wardrobe, which will travel in a truck. The wardrobe is a big black box with two opening doors on wheels. Unfortunately it’s not a Tardis, though!

What would we find in the wardrobe?

Over a hundred costumes and some shoes. Apart from costumes, there are cleaning products, a first-aid kid, sewing equipment, cosmetics and wigs, towels, a sewing machine, coat hangers, an iron and ironing board, a clothes rack, a clothes steamer and accessories – tiaras, Sea Witch crown, jewellery for the Queen and Courtier and Mermaid head pieces.

What’s your favourite costume from The Little Mermaid?

The Sea Witch. The costume is very effective, and it’s all hand-painted.

Frances with the Sea Witch costume

How do you think Chinese audiences will receive The Little Mermaid?

I’m sure they’ll love it – and the music will transcend because it plays such a big part in the telling of this story.

Advice to wardrobe crew going on tour for the first time?

Going on tour is hard physical work for both the dancers and the crew. It’s long hours, lots of heavy lifting and moving about. While it’s a lot of fun and very rewarding, it’s definitely not just about sitting in the wings and watching the show…

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One Response to “5 minutes with… Frances Pyper, QB’s Wardrobe Assistant”

  1. Jillian Brandlin April 7, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    I was dying on my lunch break and then I stumbled upon your blog post. This was so enticing that I was late in returning back to work. Can’t wait to email this with my colleagues!

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