The Theater Department at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University recently produced “On the Verge” by Eric Overmyer, a writer and producer for many television programs, and it was the latest example of the many opportunities for CSB and SJU students to get involved in such programming. Senior theater major Clare Lamb, one of the costume designers, produced seven costumes for four of the six characters while theater professor and chair Amelia Cheever designed the rest. Lamb spent approximately 190 hours in the costume shop in the lower level of the Benedicta Arts Center at CSB working on this production.
“My favorite part about designing these costumes was working to maintain character personality through the change of time,” Lamb said. “I needed to portray the character Fanny as the same person throughout the production, but also convey her subtle changes through her fashion choices.”
Lamb’s other theater involvements include acting in productions and, currently, directing a one-act play. Her after-graduation plans are to work for theaters in the area to build up her resume, do some traveling and then work for a theater company in South Korea, combining her theater major with her minors in history and Asian studies.
“My favorite thing about the theater major at CSB and SJU is the professors' interest in working with the passions of students,” Lamb said. “I am supported in my personal interests and learning goals.”
The costume shop can be a great place to learn and grow your skills, with opportunities to get course credit or work-study hours. Costume shop manager Elsa Larsen oversees 13 student workers from 11 different majors.
“Working in the costume shop is an opportunity to learn a life skill, be involved in the arts on campus, and have a creative outlet built into your hectic student schedule,” Larsen said. “Many students start with no sewing experience but, with time and practice, all my employees become excellent stitchers. I love working with students from various departments to create beautiful costumes for our productions.”
Students can also sign up for Theater 253, Introduction to Costuming Process, taught by Cheever. During the spring semester, students from nine different majors are enrolled. Students also can sign up for Theater 240, a production lab for costumes.
Junior English major Kiara Frederick, who played the wife in this year’s production of “The Hatmaker’s Wife” by Lauren Yee, also is the theater and art department coordinator student worker. She said there are vast opportunities for all.
“Everyone has the same opportunities to learn and grow in various roles and positions in the theater,” Frederick said. “I love it.”
Besides having a student costume designer, “On the Verge” had a student lighting designer, stage manager, light and sound board operators, lead wardrobe director, run crew, scene shop crew, properties build crew and costume shop crew.
This spring, the theater department will have three more productions and opportunities to be involved: “Small Mouth Sounds” is already cast, but the musical “Godspell” and a dance production also will be forthcoming. For audition information or to learn more visit www.csbsju.edu/theater.
This is what it looks like behind the scenes in the Benedicta Arts Center costume shop.