I'm sitting in tech, training Wardrobe Crew, and thinking about that particular journey of my professional life.
No matter how many shows one does, there seems to be this moment of panic where you completely doubt it's all possible. You look at the costume plot and the wardrobe changes and you think "my goodness! This is complete madness!" It's a type of amnesia, I think. I know this is true for everyone because there always seems to be this collective freak out in the first two hours of tech. So maybe it's not amnesia, it's an epidemic. It's like theater small pox.
As part of my job, I train college students who have never worked backstage before in their lives how to do wardrobe. So, not only am I planning all the changes, I'm teaching them how to do everything from the ground up. I'm also often teaching actors how to interact with wardrobe for the first time.
There is a magical combination of planning ahead and thinking on your feet. It is necessary to make sure that all your paperwork is in order and ready to go. You have to have watched a run and made lots of notes. You have to think about who needs to do what and where they have to do it. And you have to be prepared to throw it all out the window if you have to.
I did a lot of dance wardrobe early in my life. Dance is totally different, as there are not usually changes in the middle of a piece unless you have a full ballet, and even then dancers are pretty self sufficient. However, I was thrown in the deep end when I did a big musical for the first time a few years ago. What's more, I was learning the show in real time during the run of the performance! That was easily the most frightening experience of my life. I was even thrown in on my own suddenly one night when I was not supposed to go on yet, which was actually a blessing in disguise because I didn't have the time to freak out; I just had to do.
Even with all that, it's still scary during tech. There's always a moment when I'm looking at the paperwork and my brain just can't comprehend. That always seems to be when I have ten people not so patiently waiting for an answer.
Stop. Think. Breathe.
And it always works out.