Peek at the Fashion behind the curtain

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Peek at the Fashion behind the curtain

Jaqueline Martinez, Contributor

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The UTEP Theatre and Dance Department is a student-centered program located in the Fox Fine Arts, which offers a variety of performances and design opportunities for students and artists as they develop and refine their skills fit for a professional career in entertainment. Through the Wise Family Theatre, the Studio Theatre and the UTEP Dinner Theatre, the department hosts about 20 productions a year.

A big part in putting on these productions is creating the costumes.

For each performance, the department has production meetings where it reviews the script and discusses the directors’ take on it and how he or she envisions the production.

“From there we respond to the directors’ prompt and we’re going to each do it in our own unique way, but it’s going to go in the same direction,” said Crystal Herman, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts and resident costume designer of the theatre department.

The costume department coordinates with the set and light designers, as well as with hair and make-up crew to touch base on where they are going, how far they’ve gotten and discuss any changes. Herman is also the lead costume instructor for the department where she teaches principles of costuming, costume history of Western fashion from Egypt to present day, costume design and costume construction and patterning.

The practicum classes are lab-based courses where the students must complete a specific number of hours for the semester. The courses which often involve painting masks, sewing, setting in zippers, hemming pants or running the show backstage as the wardrobe crew.

“It is my job to either design every show that goes on in the theatre department or assign the design to a student or, in this case, we had a guest designer who came in so I had to supervise that,” Herman said. “I try to give students as many opportunities as possible to design because I’ve already had my professional career and what I think my job is as a teacher is to make sure they get those opportunities because this is their education.”

Sofia Perez, a senior majoring in theatre and an international student, is currently the teaching assistant for the costume shop under Herman and enjoys the opportunities.

“I really enjoy making costumes. It is very fulfilling to have the results in my hands once I’m done, because I feel that is a really rare thing to have as a professional, to touch and see the final product of hours and hours of work,” Perez said while working on a mask for the department’s next and last show of the semester. “I try to learn a little of everything, I want to master this. Right now, I’m working on a mask, but I can do 3D printing, I’ve done dresses, skirts, pants, shirts, jackets, hats and even cosplay.”

Perez plans to pursue a masters degree in design after graduating and has recently been accepted into the University of Connecticut (UConn).

“If you were to spend a single day without television, without music, without anything visually appealing, all of that is art. We don’t really appreciate it because we are so familiar with it, but it is literally in everything we do,” Perez said. “Everybody’s work is important. We need engineers just as much as we need singers, lawyers as much as we need actors.”

The UTEP Theatre and Dance Department is currently working on it’s next and final show of the semester, a contemporary adaptation by Luis Alfaro “Oedipus El Rey,” which is set in the prison system in a barrio of Los Angeles, California. The show will run from April 26 to May 5.

For information about the UTEP Theatre and Dance Department visit utep.edu/liberalarts/theatre-dance/.

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