Patched Up

My earliest memories of sewing are so vivid that the smell of the old cardboard, camera flash box my mom uses to hold her thread still comes to mind. I would sit beside her on the bed as she mended holes in my brother’s clothes, or took in the waist on a pair of hand-me-down jeans. And I would practice little stitches in scraps of denim that once were pantlegs but would someday be patches.

I’m not sure if it’s the practicality of it, the meditative quality, or if it’s because of those early memories, but I find an immense amount of joy in sewing. There are times that I enjoy mending something in a way that makes it hard to tell it was ever in need of repair and other times I want it to be obvious. A small act of defiance, in some ways — like not being afraid to share a secret with everyone on the street. 

In the weeks leading up to our rehearsal period and eventual tour of Ragtag, I find myself with a pile of costumes that all need some combination of patches or stitches, embellishments or snaps. As I sew, I can’t help but think how appropriate a metaphor this all is for not only our show, but for our lives as artists at this moment: sewn together and maybe a little rough around the edges, but wearing our patches proudly. 

It’s important to accept the things that have left us in need of mending, and even more important to acknowledge the things that have mended us. There is beauty in broken things and perfection in imperfect things, and the more we embrace that — especially now — the easier it will be to share our stories and let others in. 

Now, as I’m sewing, I think of the last time we wore these costumes. The reality we endured as a cast in March of 2020 and all of the uncertainty we faced. I think of everyone’s journey between then and now. The highs and the lows, the turns and stops. Everything that we experienced, individually and together, brought us to this moment. We are a little tattered, but we’re here and we’re ready to show you how we’ve patched ourselves up.

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