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The Set Designer and Costume Designer for “Die Walküre” were rolled into one chap named Ashley and I do believe that he is still alive. Maybe just barely alive, with shattered nerves which are only to be calmed with high (double) numbers of caipirinhas, extra lime, please. Caipirinha, you ask? I think it’s a cousin to the Margherita. Remove the Tequila, add cachaça, fine sugar, mulled lime, and there you go. Cachaça is made from cane sugar, but is quite bitter without the sugar added. A very, very tasty drink and quite addictive.

Anywho, Ashley could tell a story or two about building a set in Manaus, if he were in the condition to speak. I only remember one small episode concerning the black background curtain for the whole set. This 30 meter long heavy cotton drapery was just too long.

Shortly after Ashley informed the sweet and helpful backstage staff that it must be shortened, Joleta appeared with a needle and black thread in hand to hand sew the hem on a heavy thirty meter long drape.

After choking a bit on the absurdity, Ashley practiced his very dry wit on the poor seamstress by explaining to her the even more absurd idea that she must be hung upside down from the lighting bar in order to complete this feat of sewing.

And Off She Went, mumbling her incensed refusals. The things they do in Manaus in order to make everything work are THAT extreme; Joleta believed him.
Ashley had to run after her to explain, sides hurting in laughter.

Hearing that story I got stuck at the part about her appearing with the needle and thread. Folks, EVERY theater has a sewing machine and an ironing board! How can it function without such essentials. I could not get past the idea of her sitting with this heavy, dusty, hot, black thing in her lap and stitching away as if it were the middle ages. If she had used a fish bone for a needle it couldn’t be any more absurd.

Now, as I look up during the performance and see the single, heroic rope holding up gigantic pieces of wood and as I make an exit where there are no stairs, I just chuckle and think of Joleta hanging upside down sewing with her fish bone.

(Thanks to Ashley and the staff for the two pieces of tape warning me to go no further where there are no stairs but much darkness and a three foot fall. I just wait and they bring me some stairs. What else?)

I am truly impressed with the work they do here. I do wonder if Ashley will recover in time for “Siegfried.” I just don’t know if anyone can drink that many Caiparihnas.

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