Monday, June 2, 2008

A Tale of Tails

D-Day was upon us.
We had to get M's costume as Sugriva, the monkey king in the Ramayana play ready the next morning, a tall order after carousing the previous evening away at a party. M had stayed up bleary-eyed to 'paint' her mask on the computer, so it would be ready for printing on cardstock the next morning.(No old-fashioned color-with-crayon for her- it had to be a selection of custom colors on MS Paint.) S had already done his share of computer work with adjusting the size of the mask to the perfect dimensions to match M's tiny visage.

Being a monkey, the must-have accessory was, naturally, a tail. I had vague ideas of sewing a fabric tube to be stuffed with newpaper and somehow attached to her pants, so I hurriedly fished around in my scrap bag and came up with leftover green felt (from her Halloween pumpkin costume last year) that had the right dimensions. Wrong color though, or perhaps I could coordinate the rest of her outfit to match the green tail. The tube didn't look convincingly tail-like, so I flipped it inside out about a dozen times (easier said than done), while adjusting the shape to a properly simian taper.

My husband took over at this point, experimenting with a wire hanger for the tail and polyfill for padding. To push the stuffing in without punching through it, he started off with a bamboo rod, switched to a yard stick and finally brought in a beheaded mop handle The way he kept vanishing down the stairway and coming up with ever larger implements, was more than a bit Chaplinesque, leaving all of us doubled over in laughter.

The next conundrum (or should I say 'engineering challenge') was to devise a suitable attachment point for the tail to the costume. Gravity would have dragged this now-heavy accoutrement down into the dust, so he had to come up with a rigid and detachable top panel to hold up the tail. A couple of stiff cardboard rectangles fit the bill and could be pinned to the costume.

Our friend's son was Hanuman and his tail solution was to wrap a wire hanger with a brown scarf, adding a decorative gold tassel to the end, an idea that had made me envious that I hadn't thought of it. He had opted for a gold and cardboard crown, with red face paint and pursed up lips, air filled cheeks to complete the monkey look and made for a very cute Hanuman.

Ravana was a marvel of printout wizardry. D, who was enacting the role had a photograph of herself with a crown, huge fake mustache and frown printed out 9 times and stuck on a bamboo frame which sat on her shoulders.

Much fun was had by all the participants in this Ramayana play, even though M's tail kept getting in the way and almost tripping up the eagerly battling actors and actresses. They survived the great war to eat yummy pizza at the conclusion of a successful semester.

(I would have loved to add pix of the Hanuman and Ravana, but can't because of privacy rules, etc. etc.)


Lekhni said...

This is hilarious! Can you post pictures of the costumes?

Sujatha said...


Check the update at the bottom of the post for a couple of photos.

l said...

That tail is good :D The shape of the tail reminds me of something though, except I can't remember what. A devil's tail maybe. A drawing in some book, I think..I am going to spend the rest of the day wondering :)

Lekhni said...

Sorry, that last comment was from me..

Greg said...

Actually, the shape of the tail (and it's position in that photo) brings to me, for me, that tail of the Cowardly Lion's in the MGM version of The Wizard of Oz.

Sujatha said...

Lekhni, Greg,

Devil's tail or lion's tail- you had me riffling through Google's image search for suitable photos. Believe it or not, it was hard to locate more than a couple of decent photos: /Link1 and Link 2 were probably the closest in shape to M's tail. We just gave it a random kink so it would stay out of the way, though with not quite the success that we hoped for. Maybe we should have let it curl around like this stylized version