Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lessons I Forget I Know

Right now I am working on a production of Hamlet at Notre Dame's Summer Shakespeare Festival. I have an amazing assistant who is very eager to learn, and in working with her, and explaining my work to her, I've remembered some tips and tricks that I use on a regular basis and sometimes forget I know.

First, when antique and thrift shopping I take pictures, lots of them. It is obvious to take pictures of the things I think might be useful,
 but I also take a picture of the price tag on the item,

and, when I need to establish the scale of an item, I also take a picture that includes my purse. I use the purse because it is a neutral item that I am guaranteed to have with me in a production meeting when we are discussing options.

Another trick I have learned to use is to label pictures and options that I send to directors and designers. It could be just numbers or letters, but it helps clarify email and phone conversations when you can't be in the same room with the rest of the team members. 
This trick was actually reinforced when I neglected to use it recently. I sent a document of photos to the director and designer. There were six pictures on each page, two images of furniture piece. The director replied to the email that he loved the second table on the page, we had a few more exchanges about the size of the piece he had chosen and how it might function, and I made plans to purchase the piece when I returned to Chicago the next day. 
Because there had been a lot of back and forth about several pieces, many of which would be serving multiple purposes in the show, I sent one final document with photos of all the pieces I planned to purchase with captions indicating which scenes we would be using them for. It was only upon receiving that final email that the director and I realized we had been speaking of different pieces. He did not realize that the first two photos on the page were of the same desk. His note said he liked the second table on the page, but he was actually referring to the second photo of the first table. We were able to clarify the discussion and I was able to purchase the correct piece of furniture. 
The experience served as a reminder to me that there are reasons I take the time and energy to do a little bit extra. When I make an assumption that everyone is on the same page, I run the risk of making a very expensive mistake (I would have paid $250 for an non-returnable desk had I not realized the confusion).