Unprofessional to get creative with your blacks?

MarshallPope

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This may be a strange question, but hear me out...

So far, I have only worked shows in my high school and now in my college. I am trying to branch out a little into other venues now (not that there are many around me, but that's beside the point...) and I was wondering what the general consensus is regarding blacks. I know it depends a lot on what you are doing, but is it unprofessional to get creative and fashionable with your black clothes for theatre work? I have a good selection of black buttondowns, Levis, slacks, canvas sneakers, polos, etc., but that can get old pretty quickly. What about black skinny jeans? V-necks? Low-cut v-necks? A black scarf if I'm not doing rigging? I'm just wondering what everyone's opinion is on this.
 

ruinexplorer

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Your blacks should be comfortable and functional. If you are working in a non-production aspect (as in not working during the actual performances as a technician) then it should be safe to be fashionable. I would say that the scarf is out as it can be a distraction as well as a hazard. Even if you aren't rigging, it could catch on scenery or fall off and cause a slip/trip hazard.
 
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cdub260

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What is acceptable for stage blacks varies from venue to venue and show to show. At the Pageant each member of the crew is provided with one polo style shirt which has a small emblem on the left side of the chest. Most say Pageant of the Masters on one line and Stage Crew on the other line. This is the only portion of the stage blacks that the Pageant provides. Mine says Master Electrician instead of Stage Crew. We are not, however, required to wear this shirt. We just have to wear all black with no large images or writing. Small and unobtrusive images and writing are acceptable as long as it's something appropriate to wear around children as we have a lot of kids in the show. I have a number of other shirts that I'll wear as a part of my stage blacks, some related to other shows I've worked, others simply having images or writing small enough that they meet the standards set by the Pageant. Two of my favorites are my League of Evil Geniuses shirt and my Galactic Consortium of Evil Overlords shirt. I would not wear either of these shirts to work at another venue until such time as I had determined whether or not they fit the standards of that venue. In short, don't get creative until you've learned whether or not getting creative is acceptable for a particular venue or show.
 

rochem

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I have a large collection of black shirts that I've picked up at shows over the years. Many of them have just a few small lines of text or a logo on one side of the chest, and some have a reasonably-sized logo on the back as well. I'll often wear these to shows as long as total black isn't required for some reason. I have personal favorites, mainly based on how the shirt fits and how breathable the material is. However, I also went out and bought at least half a dozen plain, unmarked black t-shirts, which are actually sold as black undershirts. They're very thin and breathable, and being all black, there's no possibility that my logo/text could be too big. I almost always wear these when I'm working for a new company/venue/show at first until I find out how much "non-black" they are okay with on blacks.

Also, keep in mind that different shows require different clothing. If you're working a load-in of a large touring show, chances are they don't care what you're wearing as long as it's not unsafe. If you're going to be running the show, then usually anything that's mostly a dark color is fine. On certain shows, especially if you'll be going out onto the deck for shifts, they may require total black, even shoes, and provide you with gloves and masks to cover your skin. If you're going to be FOH at all, you probably want to dress a little nicer - a simple black polo shirt is nice, or maybe a dress shirt depending on how formal it is. If it's an opening night or a gala type event, or anything corporate, expect to be wearing a suit and tie, or at least a sport jacket. I've been known to wear a black suit jacket over a ratty black undershirt and black cargo pants when I've had to go from stagehand to clean-looking theatre representative in only a few minutes - you'd be surprised how convincing it looks! :)
 

emac

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Before I go into tech (or at least dress Depending on what I am doing/where I am in the show) I where what I usually where into the theater as long as its safe. That means bright blue converse or similar, skinny jeans what ever I want.

For tech I am usually in black cargo pants, black shoes, and a black cotton tee. this can get pretty hot if I am running around doing a bunch of stuff so I may look into the undershirt thing...
 

shiben

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If your comfortable in black skinny jeans for a gig, thats probably ok. I just find that wearing mine to anything but a concert is a bit restrictive to work in. As for the scarf: I have worn a black and white Keffiyeh to gigs before, and although its stylish (and the band loved it), it was way too hot and came off too eaisly. Hats, I nearly always wear some sort of hat, just not something thats too distracting. Usually dark grey or black. A v-neck? Sure. A low cut v-neck? People might think your part of the indie warmup act (especially when you add the keffiyeh or similar). My favorite "blacks" that I can always get away with (being the LD or in the booth or at the rock shows at my school where the band is more interested in the staff being "cool" than in black) is a Dickies studded belt. Combine with skiny jeans for indie acts, if you are just in the booth or doing mic checks on stage. I usually go with black 5.11 TDU pants (in the tear-resistant version, with kneepads), black Redwing boots, a black "wife beater" style crap (these have no names that are not diggs at someone), a black undershirt of some sort over that, and then either a black band (or RodieRags, personal favorites for load ins at my school are "I dont need a 6' long, 500 lb console to make me feel special" and "My three favorite words: Go House Lights") t-shirt for R&R gigs or a black H&M collared shirt for Theatre. If its rather cold, I have several commando sweaters that I wear on top of the collared shirt. My favorite has a Union Jack on the shoulders, and it had a name pad on it too, so I had wardrobe make one with my name on it. Studded belt or black belt, depending on how nice of a show. I dont do things that require a suit, so I dont have a black suit for work (I do, however, have 2 suits, and you should have at least one). When I was doing a lot of indie gigs at my college, standard dress was just like the band except in black: skiny jeans (with black boots still tho, not Converse All Stars in whatever color), v-neck t-shirt in black instead of white, studded belt was a must, and a non-baseball hat in black (I prefer driving caps to the fedora that people seem to be wearing a lot of now). My experience is that often, the place you will be working will have some form of dress code, if its written down is another matter. For what its worth, I have worn full TDUs, a MOLLE vest and a boonie hat (all in black, for a specific show, thats what they wanted crew to look like) to work before.

Overall, no reason to look like junk, but also no reason to be ready to go clubbing. Comfortable and functional is the real rule, and I tend to be of the camp that feels that part of comfort is to feel good about your clothing choice. I can tell you for certain that you can have a lot of fashion in black, it just wont go out of style. rochem, people really give the runners masks and stuff? I feel like your stage hands would look like a Special Forces unit rather than stage hands (maybe they can wear radio harnesses and put their tools in a thigh holder, and some Oakly Tactical Series sunglasses?).
 

lieperjp

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I would agree with the above. Often, for theatrical shows, I find myself in the house for a show, so I usually wear at the very least a set of nicer black work pants and a polo shirt with either our tech crew logo or school logo on it. For other shows I just dress in attire that suits the occasion (for instance, for a load in of a game show event, just t-shirt and jeans, but for our commencement a shirt and tie with dress pants and shoes.)

Persoanly, I would be caution against wearing stuff like skinny jeans or lower cut tops - while this is acceptable to you or me, some of the older members on staff may not appreciate it (same thing goes for those who wear baggy, saggy pants - "pull up yer britches!")
 

shiben

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Saggy pants are just a bad idea... I submit to you the Coffee Flavored Coffee rant by Denis Leary for opinions on that...
 
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rochem

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rochem, people really give the runners masks and stuff? I feel like your stage hands would look like a Special Forces unit rather than stage hands (maybe they can wear radio harnesses and put their tools in a thigh holder, and some Oakly Tactical Series sunglasses?).
This isn't a common thing, but it did happen last year on a show I was working. A large touring show came through, and for one particular scene, they flooded the stage with blacklights for a few minutes, during which time some of the carps had to come out on stage and pull a piece upstage. Under normal lighting this wouldn't have been a problem, but under those blacklights, without full body covering, any exposed skin would have glowed like the fourth of july.
 

MrsFooter

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My general rule of thumb is make sure that whatever you wear isn't a distraction to you OR anyone else. And if you're going to pick fashion over function, then for the love of god, don't let me hear you ***** about it.

I totally feel you, though. In an attempt to hang on to the last remaining threads of my feminism, I wear jeans that fit well and I try to accessorize, even if it's just making sure I put on earrings. Sometimes being able to feel confident in your appearance is just as important as having a million pockets!
 

chris325

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I could understand a black dress shirt with black jeans or black dress pants, especially if it's a higher-end event and/or one where you will be more obvious to audience members. The idea of masks or any other extraneous body covering seems childish and unprofessional unless specifically needed, like in the blacklight sample provided.

Rarely anything is needed beyond the basic black t-shirt and jeans, so I've always found it better to place functionality first. Jeans with big pockets are helpful (it's really difficult to shove an Altman wrench into some jeans) and it should have rather strong belt loops, again for use with a wrench.

Saggy pants will not only make you look immature, but could also present a safety hazard. There's a million things that pants can get caught on on the ground of the average theatre, and saggy pants just make it that much easier to do it.
 

MarshallPope

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My general rule for appropriateness in the college theatre (Of course, depending on the show itself, but overall) is if I would be embarrassed to wear it to my church during the week. I don't think I own a pair of saggy pants, so I'm not concerned with that for myself. I definitely understand the idea behind cargo pants, but I just do not find them comfortable AT ALL. It's something about the way the pocket rubs against my thighs that just drives me insane. Of course, then I'll spend five minutes pulling on a pair of tight jeans, so go figure....
I definitely agree with what Shiben and Mrs. Footer said regarding felling good about your clothing as an important element of comfort.
 

MarshallPope

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Spray paint's cheaper.:twisted:
That brings back high school marching band memories... Forget your black socks and your ankles have a date with the lx tape. Luckily I always remembered mine...
 

What Rigger?

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Saggy pants are just a bad idea... I submit to you the Coffee Flavored Coffee rant by Denis Leary for opinions on that...
Like a card-carrying member of the Wu-Tang Clan!
 

macsound

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Since this thread somehow got dredged up, short sleeve vs long sleeve was a big deal in most theatres I worked in. If you were blonde or white, depending on the show, you had to wear a black hat too. But if you were never expected to be on stage ever, then you could get away with dark jeans. Hell one show, I wore a suit backstage.
 

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