It’s Purim — at least in most of the world, except for the walled cities of Jerusalem, Jaffa, Acre, Safed, Tiberias and Hebron (and Susa, the original Shushan in southwestern Iran), where residents celebrate on Shushan Purim, the 15th day of Adar, which begins Sunday night. (We have it on good authority that in Jaffa and Acre, people tend to celebrate on both Purim and Shushan Purim, just to be sure they’re getting it right.)
Those celebrating on Shushan Purim still have a few extra hours to figure out a costume for tonight. The tradition of masquerading on Purim exists for several reasons, from commemorating the masked intentions of the main characters of the megilla to recalling how Mordechai, Esther’s uncle, was dressed in King Ahasuerus’s royal garments as part of the larger plan to save the Jews.
Putting a disguise together doesn’t have to be a complicated matter, said Shira Wise, a Tel Aviv costume designer who works for a range of theaters across the country.
“You just have to be daring,” she said. “Put things on backwards, upside down and inside out. Try things on in a way that you wouldn’t normally wear them.”
Some ideas: Wear a poufy skirt around your neck, and it will change your proportions, said Wise, given the tendency to wear slimmer, narrower pieces on top and wider items on the bottom. Tie things around your head.
“Get sexy,” she suggested. Pile on 10 necklaces, and brush your hair up from underneath, in order to make it fluffier and more wild-looking.
In Jerusalem, makeup mistress Susan Schwartz Lazinger, who handles the makeup for all the Encore! Educational Theatre Company shows, and her husband dress up each Purim in a pair of characters from whatever play they’re involved in at the time.
“One year it was ‘Fiddler’; you throw an apron on, tie a babushka on your head,” she said. Given that Encore! produced “My Fair Lady” this year, Lazinger and her husband are dressing up as characters from a scene at the opening day of the Ascot Racecourse, putting flowers on a brimmed hat for her, and a top hat for him.
“Sometimes you find a hat and a suit and tie, and it’s good enough,” said Lazinger. “You put a bunch of makeup on your face and it looks festive.”
The makeup doesn’t have to “be fancy,” said Lazinger. Red lipstick and blue eyes “already look bizarre,” as does a scar drawn on one’s cheek for a pirate or monster.
“I never do anything complicated, but I’ve learned from watching a lot of plays that you can put it together pretty easily,” she said, adding that on Saturday night she threw on a pair of harem pants and a scarf, held a sword, and became a pirate for a Purim party.
The final piece of advice? “Never throw anything out.”
“We keep a Purim box with pirate hats and capes and swords and we save it all from year to year,” said Lazinger. “That way you can always dig something up.”