The Dressmaker

The Dressmaker

One Act Play


The Actress

Her Assistants

The Dressmaker


A great hall inside the actress’ mansion, fashioned with taste.


(The Actress enters followed by her throng of her assistants.)

Assistants:        (In a dizzying barrage) Madame congratulations! Congratulations. The award is yours. You were so beautiful when they announced your name, and you almost in tears. But don’t get us wrong, you totally deserve it. You are after all the damsel of tinsel town. There’s only one question.

(In chorus) What are you going to wear?

Actress:            (Full of it) I don’t know!

Assistant 1:      (Not getting the hint) Oh you are definitely wearing the Trelis jewels.

Assistant 2:      Coupled perhaps with those heels from your trip to Paris.

Assistant 3:      And that dress from New York!

Assistant 4:      You are not implying that the Madame will wear anything from her closet.

Assistants:        Of course not! Dear no! Never!

Assistant 4:      It’s time to call for the designers. Phone them all. Milan. Paris. New York. Tokyo. Call all the major fashion ateliers. I want them all bidding for Madame’s acceptance ceremony dress.

Madame:          No.

Assistants:        What?

(The assistants stare blankly at the Actress. A silence.)

Actress:            I’m tired of them all. All their posturing. In the end, they just want their fancy dresses in the magazines.

Assistant 4:      What do you propose Madame?

Actress:            Call him.

Assistants:        Him?

Actress:            Him. I have been thinking about this. And, I want him.

Assistant 1:      You don’t mean the boy?

Actress:            Yes the boy. You’ve heard of him.

Assistant 2:      Oh we’ve heard of him. Some wannabe designer.

Assistant 3:      From some backwards country.

Assistant 4:      And he doesn’t even have a tag!

Actress:            He’s been doing well enough. Christine wore his designs to the ball.

Assistant 1:      Christine? Christine’s a B actress compared to you, Madame.

Assistant 2:      Without her boobs, no director would cast her.

Assistant 3:      And that was a ball. And this is an event. No, THE event of a lifetime.

Actress:            Yes he doesn’t have a tag. And maybe he doesn’t have the clients yet. But I can see him rising. I’m sure of it. I’ll be one of the first few lucky girls to have worn him before he got big.

Assistant 4:      Please think this over, Madame.

Actress:            I want him. (With finality)  Call him.

(She exits. All follow.)


(The dressmaker enters. He sits and waits awkwardly on a sofa.)

(The assistants enter.)

Assistant 1:      Oh you’re barely a man!

Assistant 2:      (Laughing) Look what he’s wearing! Department store.

Assistant 3:      What makes you think you of all people can make a dress fitting the high social standing of the Madame.

Dressmaker:     (Humbly) I’m good with my hands. It’s what I do.

Assistant 4:      (As if a bad stench has passed over his nose) I’ll call her now. (Exits)

Assistant 1:      So how long have you been in the business, little boy?

Assistant 2:      (Staring him down) Where in heaven’s did you study fashion?

Assistant 3:      I mean look at you.

Dressmaker:     I am a simple dressmaker. I have few clients. But I am sometimes hired. For that I am grateful.

(The Actress enters together with the assistant who left with her.)

Assistant 4:      I present the Madame, Damsel of Tinsel Town.

Actress:            (Kissing him on both cheeks) Good morning! Good morning! I am so happy you could come. Would you like anything to eat? Some wine perhaps. Could you get us some wine?

Assistant 1:      (Hesitantly) Whatever you wish Madame.

Dressmaker:     (Interrupts; before the assistant could leave) If it’s all the same to you. I would like to begin.

Actress:            How industrious! That’s the right way to make a way for yourself, little dressmaker. Straight to business, and away with the formalities.

Dressmaker:     Yes. I would like some privacy.

Assistants:        Privacy!

Actress:            (Smiles) Privacy. Yes. Uhm. Would you care leaving us for a while?

Assistants:        Madame!

Actress:            There are some more preparations for the party.

Assistants:        (Grudgingly) As you wish. (Exeunt)

(The Dressmaker opens his bag and takes out a measuring tape.)

Dressmaker:     (Presenting the tape) Do you mind?

Actress:            Oh no! No!

(In silence, The Dressmaker takes the Actress’ measurements.)

Actress:            (Just to make conversation) I’m sorry about them. They mean well. But sometimes they get a little overprotective.

Dressmaker:     Don’t worry about it?

(A silence.)

Actress:            Don’t you have to write those?

Dressmaker:     What?

Actress:            The measurements.

Dressmaker:     No. My hands can remember.

Actress:            (Coyly) You little pervert.

Dressmaker:     I’m just doing my job.

(A silence.)

Actress:            You’d go to the party right?

Dressmaker:     What party?

Actress:            It’s after the big event. A little thank you gift to all my fans. Right here in the mansion. I’m sure you’ll meet more clients there. A big boom for the business, I’m sure.

Dressmaker:  I’m done. (He packs up his bag.)

Actress:            Oh.

Dressmaker:     You’ll get the dress in a week’s time.

Actress:            You can take your time. The awarding ceremony is not until the next month.

Dressmaker:     You’ll get the dress in a week’s time. Thank you. I enjoyed your company. (Exits)


(A week after. The actress paces to-and-fro.)

(The assistants enter, carrying a carton box.)

Assistant 1:      It’s here! It’s here! Express delivery!

Actress:            Thank god!

Assistant 2:      What are you excited about? I’m sure it’s nothing.

Assistant 3:      (Laying the box down on the table) A sure flop.

Assistant 1:      You said it.

Assistant 4:      (Taking a card on the carton box) What’s this?

Actress:            A message! A message from him!

Assistant 1:      An apology for an ugly dress.

Assistant 2:      He’s asking for more money.

Assistant 3:      The box is empty.

Actress:            Shhh!

Assistant 4:      Well what does it say?

Actress:            (Reading) If the Madame is happy with my work, I would like to extend a proposition that I, from now on, be her personal tailor, to make and create her wardrobe on and off the screen, given one provision; that I may decline a single design request. I would do this with love and with my own finances. Signed, your humble dressmaker.

Assistant 1:      Love? Ha! I’m sure that decline request is for a wedding dress!

Assistant 2:      He’s just like all the others Madame. He just wants some publicity.

Assistant 3:      He plans on using you, the ingrate!

Assistant 4:      You won’t fall for a man like him would you?

(The actress takes out the dress. It is of a quality and beauty that none in the room have ever seen. She dances with dress. All her assistants stand in awe.)

Actress:            Love? Never.



(A turn. Well-dressed socialites enter, they dance to some popular waltz tune.  The actress enters. She is congratulated at every turn, but all the while looking and fussing for the Dressmaker. The socialites exit. The party ends without Dressmaker’s appearance.)

Actress:            (Sitting down, utterly disappointed) He didn’t come!

Assistant 1:      (Drunk) What does it matter if some one shot designer didn’t come!

Assistant 2:      (Also drunk) You were so beautiful. That dress, I have to give it to the  guy.

Assistant 3:      (Drunker than the other two) Yes. You got the congressman talking didn’t   you? Salivating over that fine body hidden in all that dress. Even offered                                                      a ring!

Assistant 4:      Please leave.

Assistants:        As you wish. (They exit)

Actress:            (Digs her face into her palms) He didn’t come.

Assistant 4:      It is good that he didn’t come. If you don’t mind me from saying so…  he would have distracted you.

Actress:            From what?

Assistant:         From the wedding proposal. From your social standing. It is better this   way.

(A silence.)

Actress:            (Making her mind up) Call them both. Tell one I said yes. Tell the other I need a dress.

Assistant4 :      But his condition. One decline request.

Actress:            (To herself) I hope he does. (To Assistant 4) Call them. (Exits)

(Assistant 4 walks to the phone with great trepidation. He dials.)

Assistant 4:      Hello. A dress, yes, she wants a dress. Do you want to come here to talk to her about it? You know what she likes. It’ll be here next week, same                                                         time. You don’t have to rush. A week’s time, yes. Are you sure about this?  (He hangs up. Exits.)


(The Assistants enter.)

Assistant 1:      Who would have thought it? The boy did wonders for the Madame after all.

Assistant 2:      Do you remember that wedding dress. Glamorous. Every eye in the world  was on her.

Assistant 3:      And the movie deals. I don’t think the Madame has been this busy in her entire career. Once she was the damsel now surely she’s the queen.

1:      All because of a little dressmaker.

Assistant 2:      I’ve heard that the boy’s declined all his other clients.

Assistant 3:      Of course! He’s so busy with the Madame alone. I don’t know how he can keep up.

Assistant 1:      Dare we say it?

Assistant 2:      The Madame will get mad.

Assistant 3:      But we must.

Assistants:        It’s because of love.

(The Madame enters followed by Assistant 4. The Madame is now obviously older. The other assistants stand in attention.)

Actress:            (Drunk) Call that man. Tell him he could fuck dinner and fuck our fucking relationship. He can fuck every fucking slut in the world for all I care.

Assistant 4:      I will cancel the reservations for the Pier tonight.

Actress:            Fucking thank you.

Assistant 1:      (Whispers) I guess the fucking’s not going too well.

Actress:            What do we have for today, boys?

Assistant 1:      (Clearing his throat) Three movie scripts have come today.

Actress:            Movies. I’m so tired of them. They’re just so plastic. No truth. I don’t want to waste my time filming another blockbuster. Chuck full of car chases and                                          explosives but not a single frame of real human emotion.

Assistant 2:      Quite true, Madame! There was this theatre director who wanted to see   you.

Actress:            The theatre! Ha! No money. No audience. No thanks.

Assistant 3:      Well there’s a party at the mayor’s house next week.

Actress:            Another dreary party with dreary dressed up people.  (Sighs) How many   dresses does the dressmaker still owe us?

Assistant 4:      With all the premieres, and the galas, and the social nights. A lot. But   Madame, he doesn’t have a single seamstress working for him. Getting your                                      orders in, even if they’re a bit late, is just short of super human.

Actress:            On second thought. Call them all. The producers. The director. The Mayor.  Tell them I accept and would gladly parade myself in another one of the   master’s originals.

Assistant 4:      Madame, the boy’s barely eating.

Actress:            You’ve seen him.

Assistant 4:      Yes.

Actress:            How does he look?

Assistant 4:      Like a ghost.

Actress:            Good. Call him. I want the dresses in a week’s time. And tell him I want him to bring them personally. (Exits.)

Assistants:        But madame! (Exeunt)


(The Next week. The dressmaker enters carrying a huge plastic bag of carton boxes. He lays them down the table and tries to exit. He is only stopped by Assistant 4 who has himself just entered.)

Assistant 4:      Good morning young master.

Dressmaker:     It’s all there.

Assistant 4:      What?

Dressmaker:     The 3 movie dresses. The dress for the theatre director. The dress for the mayor. Everything.

Assistant 4:      You still have another day.

Dressmaker:     I didn’t want to be late. I have to go now. Good day.

Assistant 4:      Wait!

(A silence.)

Assistant 4:      Wouldn’t you like to see her.

Dressmaker:     No.

Assistant 4:      If you don’t mind me asking, why do you do this?

Dressmaker:     It’s my job.

Assistant 4:      Have you fallen for the Madame?

(A silence.)

Assistant 4:      How so? You’ve never spent more than an hour with her! And she’s  treating you like a slave. How could you love a woman like that?

(The Actress enters.)

Actress:            Oh you’re here. Good. (Calling to the inside) Just put them all here.

(The other assistants enter carrying boxes and boxes full of clothes.)

Actress:            I don’t want this trash anymore. Get them. I do not want to see your face again.

(The dressmaker exits.)

Actress:            Take them! I don’t want anything from you! You asshole! Take all your  fucking dresses! I don’t need you anymore.

(The Actress faints. The assistants come to her rescue.)

Assistant 4:      Call an ambulance.

(Lights fade to black.)


(Light reveals a single black dress in the great hall, sitting with the Dressmaker.  Assistant 4 enters.)

Assistant 4:      I thought you said you wouldn’t make it.

Dressmaker:     I had one dress I could decline to. This was supposed to be it. How is she?

Assistant 4:      It looks like she will wear that dress soon. She’s coming down now.

Dressmaker:     She shouldn’t.

(The Actress enters.)

Actress:            I should.

Dressmaker:     (Stands) Good day.

Actress:            Good day. Is that the dress. As usual. It’s stunning.

Dressmaker:     You’ve grown thinner. It won’t fit.

Actress:            Some privacy please.

(Assistant 4 exits.)

Actress:            I’m…

Dressmaker:     I know.

(A silence.)

Dressmaker:     Come, I have to take your measurements so I can alter your dress.

(The Actress comes over she lets herself be measured by the Dressmaker.)

Actress:            Just like the first time we met.

Dressmaker:     I…

Actress:            I know.

(A silence.)

Actress:            But how? You barely know me. We haven’t even spoken.

Dressmaker:     We don’t need to. I speak with my hands. You, with your body.

Actress:            What a funny way of saying it. But now I am so old, and now you have   just grown into a fine man. Do you still…

Dressmaker:     (Resolutely) Yes.

(A silence.)

Actress:            I’m thankful you decided to agree to make this for me even if you didn’t  need to.

Dressmaker:     I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

(The Actress falls down to Dressmaker’s arms and cries.)

Actress:            Why? Why are you so kind? How can you even stomach being in the same  room with a bitch like me?

Dressmaker:     I have my hands. You have your own way of showing it.

Actress:            But that’s not enough. How can it be?

(A silence.)

Dressmaker:     I was once an Indian boy, lifetimes ago. It was then that I first saw you.        You were so beautiful carried by your elephant palanquin. I was staring from the bushes as you went down to cup a single leaf on the river bend. Disaster struck. The elephant you were riding on went wild and almost trampled you. Luckily I pushed you out of the way. Lifetimes has passed since then. Sometimes I chased you, sometimes you chased me. We will repeat this cycle of birth and rebirth until you are once again the princess and I become the leaf.

Actress:            (Laughing) That’s the longest I’ve heard you speak, and it’s full of     nonsense.

Dressmaker:     For now I am happy to hold you. That is my way.

Actress:            Thank you, my Indian boy.

(The Actress stands. The Dressmaker continues to measure her.)



June 2012

© 2012 Jay Crisostomo IV




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