Staff Spotlight: Jennifer "Jamface" Probst, Wardrobe
Posted on November 30, 2023
We caught up with Wardrobe Assistant, Jennifer “Jamface” Probst, for a quick Q&A about her position at Children’s Theatre Company.
CTC: What is your role at CTC?
JJP: I am a Wardrobe person at CTC. (I am most frequently Wardrobe Assistant on shows, although I often work as Wardrobe Head on particular shows if that distinction matters.)
CTC: What does your job involve?
JJP: Working Wardrobe at CTC means making sure that actors have the correct costumes and succeed at their costume changes every performance from the first technical rehearsal through closing of the show. We care for the costumes with repairs, laundry, and dry cleaning. We help actors get into their costumes, including wigs and make-up, and make sure that they are safe and as comfortable as possible even in very warm and complicated attire. Wardrobe works with many people across departments to plan in advance when costumes need things like magnets, hidden zippers, or double layers of wigs to make complicated changes possible. With the actors we choreograph our quick changes like dances so that they can be smooth and swift and not interrupt the flow of the show. We work to make sure costumes are another storytelling tool and not a distraction for the actors.
CTC: What is your favorite thing about your job?
JJP: The most fun, satisfying, and challenging parts of my job are the backstage dances of quick changes between 5 seconds and 2 minutes long. It is a sort of practical magic requiring careful planning in the costume creation and precise repetition of change choreography with actors every performance. My absolute favorites are such fast and complete transformations it seems 1 actor must surely be 2 people. For instance: in An American Tail changing a Roach to a Pigeon back to a Roach in 4 minutes.
CTC: What do you love most about CTC?
JJP: CTC is where I first saw and immediately fell in love with theater as a 6-year-old watching Beatrix Potter’s Christmas. I love working with the deeply talented and caring community of people who collaborate to make such magical shows happen, including the fantastic Acting Company member Jerry Drake who was in that production many years ago. I am so proud to create and showcase work for all ages in a multitude of styles exploring complicated topics, fueling flights of imagination, and always reaching towards hope and joy. My job is frequently utterly silly and wonderfully moving all at once.
CTC: How can someone prepare for a job like yours?
JJP: I know of many paths to a career in Wardrobe including starting out in other aspects of theater, interest in fashion design, training in college, and following a friend or mentor into the field. No matter how one arrives here, a few tools are always helpful. Basic sewing skills are used daily, especially for emergency repairs backstage. Understanding laundry symbols and a variety of stain treatment techniques is helpful in Wardrobe and in life. One laundry trick that works wonders is if a person gets blood on their clothes, say from a nosebleed in costume; spitting on the stain before rinsing is extremely effective stain removal. Possibly most important is learning to remain calm in challenging circumstances. From quickly replacing a broken shoelace to repairing torn pants to figuring out how to do a change in half the time you usually have for any number of reasons, taking a deep breath and staying calm makes a world of difference.