Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts
As a teacher, my goal is to help students develop their theater-related skills s well as their communication abilities. I encourage clear thinking and openness to the world at large. This is essential in a liberal arts setting. Many students may change their professional course after graduation and need to have had exposure to, and knowledge of, other areas and possibilities. The skills they learn under my tutelage can then be applied to a new field of choice or, if they stay in theater, directly to the work at hand. They will take the skills I have taught—history, research, social and political aspects—and place them into the context of their lives and work. Theater as a whole is a reflection of society and culture. The broader the knowledge base a person has, the more successful that person will be in theater.
In a practical sense, I teach basic construction and design, and I follow with more advanced sewing skills and rendering. I teach observation of the human animal and how we use our clothing as a reflection of our “selves” and our social roles. The decorative arts of jewelry and make-up complete the human portrait. The ability to not only create a look for a character that is an honest reflection of them, but to also be able to translate it into an actual garment, is an essential skill in this field. Costumers of today need a knowledge of history, both of the garment and of theatrical tradition which affect the garment onstage.
When I teach rendering, I tell my students that a rendering is a map or guide to building a garment. It is neither a work of art nor a sacred relic, and should not be treated as such. A rendering is the ground plan and must be clear for others to follow. Notes can be added to the rendering as needed. I show the student proportion so that the drawing will be clear. The sketch is a tool of communication with the other designers and director to help facilitate the director’s view of the world of the play.
In sewing, the student must learn the essentials as well as gain the ability to construct a garment that looks professional. The knowledge and skills needed to accomplish this range from hand sewing to tailoring. I encourage my students to work with other professionals in the field to help them learn more ways of accomplishing the goal of a beautifully finished garment that will withstand the needs and demands of the actor, the director, and the show.
My goal is to maintain a high standard of costumer in this country, to help the young costumer transition into the professional world. I accomplish this by thorough training, and through professional development not only for myself but for my student as well. I encourage my students to attend professional workshops and conferences to help build their professional networks and skills. I also strongly encourage them to constantly challenge themselves in ideas and executions of their work and workmanship.
As a working and teaching professional, I am always open to learning new things and exploring my limits. I have been active my entire professional career in the United States Institute of Theater Technologies (USITT) as well as other conferences. I have reached out to the community by teaching workshops for local junior high, high schools, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and community theaters. Being a productive member of my community is a priority. I have participated with charitable foundations and non-profit groups over the years.
In the past fifteen years I have grown as a costumer, a teacher, and a theater practioner. I have evolved to become a better person and mentor. I look forward to continuing my career in academia and the preparing of our theatrical people for the future.