Edith Head and Me!
We can honestly say that A Conversation with Edith is based upon the words and thoughts of Edith Head - the 'Edith-isms'.
by Susan Claassen
We have worked very hard to create an intimate portrait that reveals the complexity of this fascinating woman.
I know I'm not Edith. And the audience knows I'm not Edith Head. But there's a shared moment. Everybody can remember a film they saw, or a date they had, or the first time they saw 'Gowns by Edith Head' or the first time they saw Grace Kelly in the gorgeous gown, or Elizabeth Taylor in the A Place in the Sun dress. It brings back something that in some way touched them. And that is a connection that I just treasure.
“You are more Edith than Edith!”
Norman Lear and Barbara Rush, who both worked with Head on Come Blow Your Horn, came to see us and said. “You are more Edith than Edith!” Jean-Pierre Dorleac, a costume designer who was one of Edith's contemporaries, came to opening night and said, "I just felt I was with my friend again." The list goes on from Joan Rivers to Anthony Powell to Tippi Hedren to Elke Summer to Kate Burton who said,”I am having an out of body experience. I used to come to your fittings “Miss Head” with my step mom!”I am a very disciplined actor. I study the script every day. I listen to her interviews. Arrive at the theatre two hours before curtain to slowly and thoroughly get into Miss Head’s “head” - it is a wonderful time and very precious to me. I have my rituals that I go through like eating the same thing prior to every performance. It is an awesome responsibility to keep someone’s legacy alive and I embrace that wholeheartedly. I have studied her mannerisms like the way she tilted her head or posed for photos and it seems to pass the test of industry insiders!
It was a boy’s club when she started - 1923.
Edith paved the way for all costume designers. Edith was an executive woman before there was such a thing! It was a boy’s club when she started - 1923. Women in the Unites Stated had just recently got the vote, if you can imagine. It has been said that Edith had the instincts of a pastry chef and the authority of a factory foreman. She herself said, “I knew I was not a creative design genius…I am a better diplomat than I am a designer...I was never going to be the world’s greatest costume designer, but there was no reason I could not be the smartest and most celebrated.” She knew how to play the game better than anyone. Her concern really was to change actors into characters. Edith said, “I make people into what they are not - 10 years older or younger, fatter or thinner, more handsome or more ridiculous, glamourous or sexy or horrible. The camera never lies, after all, so my work is really an exercise in camouflage.” She was a woman with a great heart, a great sense of humour, and great, great determination.Every audience is notable and remarkable. From our first night in London when Dame Cleo Laine came to my student matinees - each opportunity is a blessing!