Four-person costume team serves as integral piece of Lee Theatre

Four-person costume team serves as integral piece of Lee Theatre

Khristina Scoggins (left) and Macy brown (right) prepare the wardrobe for an upcoming theatre production at Lee University.

Photo by John David Clark

Beyond North Cleveland Church of God and next to Campus Security exists a group of artists who bring Lee’s theatrical productions to life.

Here, a four-woman team researches, designs and creates or purchases every costume and prop the theatre department uses for their productions.

Costume shop manager Khristina Scoggins said the process of creating costumes for a show involves detailed research and is a joint effort with set designer Catherine Mantooth.

“Set and costumes often work hand-in-hand in a collaborative way,” Scoggins said. “For the upcoming production of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ Catherine Mantooth and I worked together to pick a direction to go rather than letting the set look one way and costumes look another way. We worked together to create our fantasy land.”

Scoggins said the research process of costume design leads to the vision. She said basing research on the history of a time period, culture, region, organization or work of fiction was a necessary component, utilizing various print and online sources to do so.

According to junior theatre major Julie Dilbeck, pattern-making is the next part of the process.

Dilbeck said a pattern acts as a mock-up of the actual costume. Patterns, according to Dilbeck, are essentially fabric models serving as an example when constructing the actual costume. The patterns are based on the research done beforehand and can be bought from a store or hand-made, depending on what sort of pattern is required.

Senior youth ministry major Annamarie Dishner said the next step in the process, creating the actual costumes, is where a lot of handiwork comes into play.

“We go through the process of making the pictures in the designer’s mind a reality. We make their visions come to life,” Dishner said. “We make a lot of the clothes from scratch. We start with a large rectangular spool of fabric and make it into something. Sometimes, people think we just go to Goodwill and find stuff, and we do some, but people don’t realize how much we craft.”

All four of the costume shop workers expressed their love of the costume shop and appreciation for each other. Sophomore theatre major Macy Brown is currently in her first semester working for the costume shop and said she always feels excited coming into work. She was also quick to say she appreciated Scoggins and the others for their diligence and kindness for teaching her about costume design and construction.

Dishner said she enjoyed helping actors fully become their characters through their costumes, describing the costumes as "wearable art."

Scoggins echoed the sentiment, saying the final products reflect the diligence and care each costume shop worker puts into her craft.

“Out of all the on-campus jobs, this is one of the hardest-working ones,” Scoggins said. “You will never meet a more hardworking team. We’re passionate about what we’re doing here.”

According to Scoggins, their work is never truly over as they have to adjust during showtimes to inevitable mishaps.

“The show must go on,” Scoggins said with a smile. “Make it work.”

The sentiment, met with laughter and agreement from the others, serves as the shop’s motto as they bring Lee Theatre to life.

To see the costume team’s work in action, see “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” Nov. 2-3 and Nov. 8-10 at 7:30 p.m., as well as 2:30 matinees on Nov. 3 and 10.

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