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In the wardrobe room

In the wardrobe room

at the Dan School of Drama and Music

[photo of three people working in the wardrobe room in Theological Hall]
Bernard Clark

Coven Rose Madensky, Artsci’19 (left), and Alice Cameron, Artsci’20 (right), get assistance from Marianna Thomlison as they modify two of the dresses in the collection.

In a light-filled room in Theological Hall, new worlds are being created with fabric, feathers, and unconventional materials. Shelves are filled with bolts of fabric and bins of lace and buttons. Here, students build costumes for two major theatre productions every year as well as for drama classes at the Dan School.

Under the direction of Wardrobe Coordinator Marianna Thomlison, students learn everything from basic stitching to budgeting and project management. Their goal is to create stage costumes that help bring a story to life for its audience. New costumes are created as needed, supplementing the collection of hundreds of donated and purchased suits, dresses, shoes, uniforms, and accessories. Many of the vintage pieces in the collection are quite delicate, so are not put into use for stage productions. Drama students use them for research and for inspiration in creating new pieces.

[photo of Marianna Thomlison with hats and masks in the wardrobe room]
Marianna Thomlison in the wardrobe room. The feathered hat on the left is a vintage piece (donated by Isabel Bader) that served as an inspiration for some of the bird masks built by students. Photo: Bernard Clark


Masks for the 2018 production of Aristophanes’ Birds were designed by faculty member Clelia Scala and built by students in her mask-making class.

[photo of an actor in a bird costume]
Frayed strips of brown and grey fabric sewn ontostretchy shells created realistic-looking bird costumes that allowed the actors in Birds to move around freely on stage. Photo: Tim Fort


"We often use sewing patterns, and i teach students about sizing, fabric choice, cutting fabric, and building an outfit,” says Ms. Thomlison. “i also teach them that sometimes it’s necessary to follow the pattern exactly, and sometimes we just want to use it as a guideline to do our own thing.”

That sounds like a good lesson for life, as well.


[cover image of Queen's Alumni Review issue 1, 2019, showing a photo of Alfred Bader]