Students from Doudna’s Costume Shop create fashion for ‘Carnival’


Megan Ivey, Verge Editor

The Costume Shop, located in the Dounda Fine Arts center, is hidden to most of the Eastern students and faculty. At first glance, the door looks nothing more than an entrance to a storage or maintenance room; however, behind the door holds talented creations and the students behind the masterpieces.

All costumes for theater productions, such as this year’s musical “Carnival” are either donated or made by students.

Set in the 1950s, “Carnival” describes the love story between an orphan and a puppeteer.

Becky Walk, a junior communication and disorder sciences major, said Karen Eisenhower, a theatre professor and manager of the Costume Shop, envisions the theme of the costumes and the students like herself help create the desired looks.

“Karen does a lot of the designing, we just help bring it to life,” Walk said.

The looks are kept in a show book, which states each character, inspirational pictures, fabric swatches, measurements of the actors and more.

The costumes of “Carnival” give a ’50s circus-style vibe, with big skirts and bright colors.

Zarhiya Cartman, a sophomore biological science major, said the costumes are made with not only to match the theme, but to also showcase the traits of the characters.

“We really try to incorporate the personality of the character in the costume,” Cartman said.

Walk said this was applied to the main character of the play, Lilly. Lilly begins as a shy character, so the students first created a gray, mousy dress. Later, as she breaks out of her shell, she wears another dress which incorporates more colors.

Gwendolyn James, a junior psychology major, said when constructing the costumes, every little detail counts.

“The littlest of things can make a problem that you will have to fix. At times it can be stressful, but as soon as you get the hang of it, it becomes fun.” James said.

The students work together at times, creating elements for the same garment. James said “Carnival” included many single projects, which are more of a challenge.

“It’s a lot when you make your own project,” James said. “Your sole responsibility is the one garment.”

One of the single projects included Cartman constructing a corset.

Cartman was given an instruction template originally, but later decided to try something new.

“I didnt like the directions I was given, I didn’t think they would turn out right,” she said. “We tried a method I had never done before instead. I had hard elements, but I’m happy to see it come through.”

Cartman’s corset can be seen in the “Dog Act” of “Carnival.”

Walk said her work on a jacket for the performance was one, if not the hardest garment she has made, specifically because of a technique called bag lining, which gives a jacket a smooth, distinctive lining.

“It is for the ringmaster of the play,” she said. “ Because it was bag lined, you had to sew the entire thing inside out and all around, and then flip it inside out so the entire thing was connected. By the end of it I wanted to throw it out the window.”

After the costumes are made, the actors are asked for their first fitting so final adjustments can be made.

“Sometimes the actors will help with the final decisions,” James said.  “The actors make it their duty to incorporate the character in themselves, and think about how they will be interpreted by the audience.”

While the actors must look the part, one factor is always heavily considered when it comes : comfortability.

“That’s the focus, asking them ‘Are you comfortable?’” Walk said. “They have to jump around. They have to dance.”

Joniqua Sanders, a freshman theater major, made circle skirts for the musical. Sanders said it is her first year working at the Costume Stop, but it already feels like a second home.

“I love being here,” Sanders said.  “It’s a an escape from the irritations of reality.”

James agrees, saying the work they do is always worth it in the end.

“We put a lot of ourselves into this job,” James said, “But we’re a family here.”

The costumes created by Walk, Cartman, James and Sanders can be seen in “Carnival.” “Carnival” opened 7:30 Wednesday in the Theatre in Dounda.  Weekend showings include 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, as well as 2 p.m. Sunday in the same location.

Megan Ivey can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].