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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Special Edition: Heathers (1989)

I say "Special edition" because I actually do not own Heathers. Which is odd. I loved this movie in my late teens/twenties. It was how I found one of my best friends (and loyal blog reader, hey Andy) because I overheard him say "Fuck me gently with a chainsaw" to someone else who lived on our floor of the dorm freshman year. I still remember craning my neck to see who quoted Heathers and thinking, "well we're friends now."

It was maybe not the wisest choice but as I started (my portion of) tech for Heathers the Musical today, it seemed like a fun thing to do. I'm designing the costumes for this production at the University I work at and I'm so proud of my work and I'm so proud of the kiddos but I'm tired. Maybe not a great call. Ah well. This is me now.

Observant readers will note that I used the past tense when talking about my love for this film. It's largely been replaced by the musical. Same black as pitch comedy with less sexual assault. Still, regrettably, some sexual assault, but the message is clearer. Even better is the UK version of the musical (that we're happily using) which adds a wonderful song for Veronica in which she asserts herself against JD.

Heathers resembles nothing remotely close to my high school experience. Except maybe the surreal, dream-like quality of the perspective which makes me wonder if I remember any of it accurately anyway. I was not a Heather, a Veronica, or even a Martha. Maybe a Betty. But largely inconsequential. I had baaaad main character syndrome as a teenager and now I realize that probably very few people from high school even remember who I am, and I'm fine with that. High school Shannon definitely thought she was a Veronica. But if I'm being honest, given the chance, I would have been a Duke. Ruthless and drunk with power. Ultimately sad. This isn't a judgment of myself, just an observation.

And isn't that the real tragedy of high school? Real or dramatized, we spend so much time judging what happened rather than observing, we can't learn the lessons we need to. As I write that, I realize it doesn't stop at high school. We so badly need narrative to support our feelings and lazy narrative requires a villain. An external one, preferably. But oof, I was my own villain so often in my life.

Doing the costumes for Heathers has been surreal in a lot of ways. I don't design as much as I used to (thank goodness) and my attitude and approach to it has changed fundamentally. It's work. I get my creative kicks elsewhere. I don't define myself by my design work any more. It's allowed me to execute my work with extreme precision and without emotionally getting hung up on it. It's also allowed me to observe my work without judgement. I know I'm getting the job done, and I know the work is good, so I can quit assigning moral values to it and just see what I'm up to. And what was I up to on Heathers? There is a little bit of me in every single character. And I wasn't even shy about it. There's an aspect of myself, a facet, that I drew from for each costume you see on that stage. And it was fascinating. A couple times I saw what I was doing and went "yikes" but ultimately, I just kept going and observing. And I think the design is better for being so grounded in something I know: Me.

Oh gosh, I'm so tired/numb from tech I can't even tell if I'm making sense anymore. Ah well.

The dream sequence moments are some of my favorite bits of filmmaking ever and I hope I did them justice. Even if I didn't, though, I enjoyed the hell out of watching them again tonight.

"Let's Go Get a Slushie"

Lino cut print and glitter. 5x7"


-So I finally watched a Skillshare class (two, actually) on lino printing and hoooolllllyyyyyy cow. I have a much clearer understanding of how to do it now. Not that I was so far off, but, as happens when you teach yourself things, I was making my life so much more difficult than was expressly necessary. I figured I wouldn't be done with this until Saturday, since I'll be in tech rehearsals each night this week but this went so so quickly. (Doing a simple & clean :D design helped a lot too.)

-I learned how to mix printing ink and that was a game changer. I learned how to line up multiple color prints more successfully. I'm just gobsmacked over how easy this was.

-GLITTER. This is a nod to the production I'm working on. I'm the gore queen of my town - if it's a bloody show there's a good chance I'm designing it - and I've grown tired of the usual blood tricks. So for Heathers, I opted for glitter gore. More specifically, rhinestone gore. It's fabulous. It turned out better than I expected. But the blood/slurpee needed to be sparkly.

-The phrase "Our Love is God" is so unsettling to me. Such a dark, teenager way to look at a relationship. Good lord I do not miss my teens/20s. I find it distasteful but I think it sums up Heathers better than any line.

-I wish I could claim it was intentional, maybe it was subconscious, but I like that this ended up feeling like a nod to the 3D glasses in the dream sequence funeral. How very.

A Tuesday afternoon posting is going to slaughter my algorithm but ah well. I'm done, I'm thrilled with the finished piece, I'm ready to get back to Heathers the Musical.

Next week... oh gosh. I teared up a bit when I saw what Random Number Generator had in store. My very favorite film, cornerstone of my world view, security blanket that I haven't watched in at least 18 months... Joe Versus the Volcano. I've been terrified of it coming up because I want to do it justice but I also can't think of anything better to do after a week of tech than come home to Ben and watch our favorite movie.

Take care of yourself this week! Drink water, limit your corn nuts, reach out to an old friend. We might look like hell but we'll come back from it.

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I cannot describe how excited I am to see the show and to ferret out all the little Shannon-isms beknownst only to us true acolytes.

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