Often shows that cast children do not offer training to local Wardrobe workers on how to work with children. Below are some guidelines and things to consider if you are assigned to dress or work with children. Of course, any specific direction or rules from the Supervisors or Company Managers will supersede these guidelines.
If there is a Child Supervisor (often affectionately referred to as a Child Wrangler), discusseverything with the Child Supervisor instead of with the child. If the child is consistently late to a change, or comes unprepared, let the Child Supervisor know and they will handle it. If the Child Supervisor does not (or if there is no Child Supervisor), bring the issue to the attention of Stage Management. Do not chastise the child.
Give children as much privacy as you can when they are dressing. Try to avoid being alone with a child behind closed doors. If possible, leave a dressing room door open or ask a Child Supervisor or Stage Manager to be in the room or quick change booth with you.
Do not take pictures of the children, either in or out of costume, unless you have the express permission of their parent or guardian. Even if you have permission to take pictures, do not post any photos of a child to any social media platform or send them to anyone without the permission of their parent or guardian. Be careful about taking photos where children could be in the background, and try to discourage the children from taking such pictures as well. It maybe helpful, if Stage Management permits, to ban taking photos altogether in the dressing rooms.
Do your best to work cooperatively with other departments. A male sound engineer may be reluctant to enter a room full of young girls to retrieve mics and may ask a female dresser to get them for him, or a female prop master may ask a male dresser to deliver a prop to a room of young boys. Try to accommodate all reasonable requests.
Be mindful of the laundry schedule and double check to make sure all laundry is turned in according to that schedule. Children may not know what garments are washable and may toss dry-clean-only pieces in the laundry basket, or they may not remember to take off their show socks and put on their personal socks at the end of a night. Check to make sure you have all the pieces you need and no more.
Some children may not be able to reach the garment racks in their dressing rooms, and they may be less than diligent in keeping their costumes and accessories organized. Help them by hanging things at the end of the night and making sure that all costumes and accessories, including shoes, are organized and easily accessible.
Remember that even though they are professional actors, they are still children. Be patient and gentle with them, even more so than with adult actors. If you get frustrated with them, discuss the issues with the Child Supervisors, your Supervisor, or Company Management. Don’t lose your temper around children.
If you are uncomfortable working with children altogether, let your Steward know at the beginning of the first day. They may be able to assign you to a track without children.
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