Spotlight On... Rebecca Rees

Spotlight On... Rebecca Rees

Friday, 12 December 2014

Young reporter Kerri Muirhead talks to Regeneration wardrobe mistress, Rebecca Rees.

While watching Regeneration it is easy to get lost in the production and forget that there are people behind the scenes making everything run smoothly.

Kerri Muirhead sat down with wardrobe mistress Rebecca Rees and found out a little bit more about what goes on backstage, what exactly a wardrobe mistress does and just how hard you have to work to get to be one.

With an impressive CV, Rebecca has worked on productions such as New Jersey Nights and the film Made in Dagenham.

What is your role in the production?

Well basically, I look after the costumes in the show - so anything that needs fixing, maintenance or laundry I do before the show and then I make sure all the costumes are in the right place either on stage or in the dressing rooms and I help with dressing during the show as well.  On some productions I get a script. I knew the play was about World War I and the war poets but not too much more. Normally with shows I am there during tech week and get involved with setting up but this production had already been set up. Sometimes I will have to alter things on tour, if someone loses weight for example. The wardrobe mistress looks after the costumes on tour.

Do you ever have any wardrobe malfunctions?

On this show there haven’t been any major malfunctions, only small things like buttons have come off. I have never really had anything major on any shows, it would mostly be, like a zip going and you just have to do a quick fix in the wings before people go on.  Nothing major has happened yet. If a zip goes I use a kimble gun rather than using a safety pin. It helps when getting people in and out, it is much easier! If there are dancers you don’t not want anything to pop!

What is the biggest challenge of your job?

I guess it is the packing and unpacking every week. Packing up I can do fairly quickly but it’s the unpacking and freshening everything up and getting everything ready takes a whole day when we get to a new venue. The first day is always a long job. It is long hours in this job. I will be in from nine in the morning till after the show is done. I am freelance so I take work when I can which means a lot of travelling. It is just weeks everywhere, this tour was about 11 weeks but they can be from six months up to a year.

What are you most proud of in the productions you have worked on?

I haven’t had as much to do with this production (Regeneration) from the start but it is nice getting feedback that the soldiers’ uniforms are really smart, even when we have been on tour for a while. It proves I am doing my job well. I have never had a bad review, apart from once about wigs, but they were cheap so it wasn’t my fault.

Did you always want to work in theatre and how did you get started?

I studied theatre design, then didn’t do anything with theatre for a few years. I tried to get into the making and was just working for free. But it wasn’t until pantomime that I started working backstage and dressing. I really enjoyed the socialising and the conversational side of being backstage. Making the dresses can be pretty lonely just working from home, I suppose I kind of fell into it. The first production I did was pantomime in Wolverhampton in 2008. Making (costume making) was probably when I went to a summer camp in America. I was hired as a costume assistant and then I did making then which got me into it which was about 2005. I would like to settle in to a permanent position, no career change anytime soon.


What is your advice?

Get a proper job, no I am kidding! Seriously though, you have to really, really want to do this job, you can’t sort of think I quite fancy doing that. The hours and unreliability of work have to make you want it.  You will have to work for free until you kind of make it. I got my name known by moving to London, picking up anything I could from adverts on the internet and things like that I mostly just got paid with food or travelling expenses. I had a paid job as well until I had regular work. I would love to do another big musical again. I haven’t done one in a while, mostly been doing plays, working with a bigger team and more costumes with more changes.

Regeneration premiered on 2 September 2014 (previews from 29 August) at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it continues until 20 September 2014. It then tours to York, Edinburgh, Bradford, Nottingham, Cheltenham, Richmond, Wolverhampton, Darlington and Blackpool where it concludes on 29 November.