Just your average American family?

I have been focusing so much on aerial and flexibility training over the past couple of years that I have had very little time to work on projects. I knew this would be the case when I closed the Poison Candy shop, however I expected that I would have managed to crank out at least a few masterpieces by now. I have declined pretty much every freelance offer in favor of swinging from the rafters, however I recently signed on for a fun costuming gig.

My friend Christopher Brown is a brilliant actor and an equally talented director. Chris introduced me to the play “HIR” by Taylor Mac over the summer and I instantly fell in love with the script. When Christopher mentioned that he would be directing the play for Cockroach Theatre, I was thrilled to come aboard as the costume designer.

Valerie Carpenter Bernstein and Tim Cummins photographed by Richard Brusky.

Good art is subjective and “HIR” is no exception. I imagine that most people who see the play walk away with a very unique perspective. Mac embraces the concept of “absurd realism”, and “HIR” is no exception. The story is an American comedic tragedy featuring a middle class family trying to navigate the ever changing culture and attempting to establish their place within it. Each character has embarked on a person journey, causing various types of clashes and sometimes disturbing revelations. “HIR” is one of those stories that tricks you into laughing only to leave you feeling like you have been emotionally dropkicked by the time it has concluded. I could theorize about the complex artistry of the production all day, however I will leave you with this great review which does a stellar job of describing the overall narrative.

The script did mention a “massive beauty pageant wig”. This is the result of two combined wigs, 14 ounces of hairspray, and approximately 3 hours of styling.

Most of the smaller shows that I have worked on have centered around glamorous performers flaunting their various attributes. It was a wonderful challenge to take on a production where my characters were more typical in some ways and completely over the top in others. I was also tasked with providing wigs which gave me an opportunity to shake the dust off of my teasing brush and drown myself in hairspray. I had a blast reacquainting myself with glamour makeup and learning how to create a believable, simple false beard. My new friend Stephanie knows every makeup trick in the book and was quick to share her extensive knowledge.

I finally had a chance to watch the show a few nights ago and I am very pleased overall. It was wonderful to sit in the audience and witness their honest reactions. The performers brought their best and I thoroughly enjoyed how Taylor Mac’s characters came alive. Much like my beloved “Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, I plan to see “HIR” performed by as many theatre companies as possible.

“I believe whole-heartedly in craft. I believe craft is essentially a commitment to learning the past, living in the present, and dreaming the culture forward.”  ~Taylor Mac

Brenna Folger and Levi Fackrell photographed by Richard Brusky.

How the time flies!

So much has happened since my last blog in September! I have been really focusing on training over the past few months and am incredibly happy with the results. I spend most of my free time in the gym bending into a pretzel, hanging from the rafters, and cross-training with Roni Taylor. To be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Aerial training with Erica Vanlee at Aerial Fitness

Aerial training with Erica Vanlee at Aerial Fitness

I’ve become much stronger and everything is really starting to click in the air. I’ve added an additional day of aerial training each week, which has really helped build my strength and endurance. My main focus right now is perfecting my act which requires lots and lots of repetition. My coach, Kristi Toguchi, has taught me so much and I am constantly amazed at her skill and patience.

Everything is progressing nicely on the ground. My flexibility is constantly improving and I can now tap dance on my head 🙂 I’ve been having lots of fun training with the other girls as I am quickly learning that getting bendy is better with friends.

Flexibility training with Erica Vanlee and Heather Hyde de Landín at Aerial Fitnes

Flexibility training with Erica Vanlee and Heather Hyde de Landín at Aerial Fitness

I had my first aerial photo shoot with Beckett Studios at the end of October and got some really great images. I’m also working on a few cool aerial costumes and I can’t wait to take photos wearing them!

I’ve been documenting my progress quite a bit. You can check out more photos and videos over at my Instagram account.

Photo by Beckett Studios

Photo by Beckett Studios