Well, last night the women got our geta. I've been so concerned about the things that the night before, I'd actually dreamt about trying to walk in them. Turns out I was right to be concerned about having enough practice. Not only do the wooden footbeds make it difficult to kneel down & get up again (that's going to take a LOT of practice!), but the "insole" is coated w/ a polymer or some similar coating that protects the nice little dragon design but also ensures that one's socks will slip around a lot. I've already decided that I'm going to rig an elastic heelstrap (the white won't show against the white socks); that's the only way I'm going to be able to safely walk backwards or up and down steps.
As it was, I think our director was alternating between despair and hysterics as she put us through our paces last night. Every single time we'd run through Three Little Maids from School, at least one of us would have pulled a Cinderella and left a sandal behind. I fear that once we get on the set, we may have to do some reblocking to account for our reduced speed (gotta take small steps or the darn things come right off your feet), especially on the graduated platforms being used for stage-left entrances, exits and other blocking.
Oh, and I was only partially correct about the rubber on the bottoms silencing the noise from the wooden footbeds. It merely reduces the noise; this means that we sounded like ponies, not horses, clip-clopping around the room last night. Not a bad sound, but I can't help but wonder how we'll sound once we get on stage.
I'm taking tonight off, but starting tomorrow I plan to wear my geta around the house as well as at rehearsal so I can get used to walking around in them. Only 4 weeks until Tech Week - that's NOT a lot of time to relearn how to walk!
While I'm sympathetic to our costume designer's wish to make us as authentic as possible, I think she may have lost sight of the fact that The Mikado is not about Japan, for all that it's ostensibly set there. But even if it really were a Japanese show, I think we'd still need to make allowances for the logistics of being on stage. When I was in a folk dance troupe, we tried to be as authentic as possible but had to make adjustments for performance. After all, we weren't living in the villages these dances were from; we were Americans performing for other Americans who often didn't know much about what we were presenting. Our costumes were generally as authentic as we could reasonably make or get them, but as just one example, we didn't do authentic hairstyles. That would have meant a different hairstyle for each costume - audiences don't have that kind of patience and the changes would have eaten all our performing time. Likewise, we may end up reblocking to accommodate the more limited movement the geta impose, and the kneeling may have to go. But who knows, maybe I'll get the knack with practice.