I learned the greatest life lessons in summer stock theater. For five summers, deep in the redwoods, I bounced between the costume shop, wig shop, and backstage running two to three exhilarating shows a season. My summers of outdoor theatre fueled my career faster than any class, seminar, or resume credit. I developed a breadth of skills in design, aesthetics, construction, hair, and makeup that I wouldn’t have experienced in college alone.
So, you want to design for theatre? Where do you begin? There is no simple path to a career in design. Some people find their way into the industry fresh out of college; others discover theatre later in life. Many receive traditional education; others learn on the job. Whether you’re in high school considering the college path, or mid-career with an urge to see your art onstage, there’s room and potential for everyone.
Clothing is the most intimate and relatable design element in theater. Everyone wears clothing, and everyone has opinions about clothing. Often what we wear says more than any words or actions do: who we are, where we’re from, what year it is, how much money we have, how much money we want other to think we have. These are just a few stories clothing tells in real life and onstage, making the relationship between the actor and the costume designer one of the most important. As you share your discoveries of your character, the costumer can share theirs and you can build a strong character together if you follow five simple steps.