Seamstress Sue Sews Up 50 Years of Service
Having created over 10,000 costumes for more than 800 shows, Birmingham Repertory Theatre's top seamstress sews up 50 years of service this week.
Sue Nightingale, known affectionately as Totty to her colleagues, started working for Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company in 1967 after completing a dress design course at Birmingham Arts School. Her career began as a Wardrobe Assistant when the company was based at the Old Rep theatre on Station Street and some of the first shows that Sue worked on included Othello with Michael Gambon in 1968 and Hamlet with Richard Chamberlain in 1970.
Now, five decades on, and after holding the position of Head of Wardrobe for 25 years, Sue works part-time for The REP and still enjoys making costumes for theatre's many productions.
Sue Nightingale said:
“When I started in1967 I never imagined that I would still be here fifty years later. I always knew this is what I wanted to do and still love making things. I feel very lucky to have worked with some wonderful people over the years.”
Some of Sue's creations have included the costume Stephanie Beacham wore in Elizabeth Rex in 2002 – one of the most expensive and elaborate ever to be made at The REP – and the costumes for the live stage show of The Snowman which premiered in 1993 and for which Sue ordered 11 miles of white net to make them. In 2015 Sue was awarded The Stage Unsung Hero Award in recognition of her years of service.
Roxana Silbert, Artistic Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre said: “Sue has devoted an incredible 50 years of her life working for The REP. She is an extremely talented, committed and generous member of staff and hugely respected as one of the greatest wardrobe supervisors in the theatre industry.”
Well known actors, designers and directors from the theatre world have sent in their congratulations to Sue including Josie Lawrence who said: “When I work at The REP I consider myself to be in my theatre home - and you my wonderful Totty have helped make it home. Over the years you've created the most amazing costumes for me - which is no mean feat. You are calm, wise, funny, caring and hugely talented. Thank you for being you Totty - a truly special human being.”
Award-winning theatre director and former Artistic Director at The REP, Bill Alexander said: “Whenever I think back to my time at The REP Totty's face is one of the first images that come into my mind, quickly followed by the memory of the warmth of her personality, the kindness and generosity of her spirit, the wonder of her creativity, the calmness of her demeanour and the brilliance and high professionalism of her work. She is a true theatre artist of outstanding quality. She was also a superb organiser of her team and led, I believe, the finest in-house wardrobe department in the country. ”
Former Executive Director, John Stalker said: “This is a towering achievement unparalleled in British theatre. Birmingham Rep has been so fortunate to have Sue at the helm (or is that hem?) of its wonderful wardrobe department.”
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