Fir Acres costume shop encourages creativity

Photograph by Amelia Doyle

In the back of the Fir Acres Theatre is a small room called the costume shop. In this shop, students work to design and create all the costumes for theatre productions at Lewis & Clark. 

On the far end of the room is a large window that covers the entire back wall. Along the window are desks with sewing machines lined up. On the wall opposite to the window are cabinets filled with fabrics. Jenny Ampersand, costume shop manager, uses many of these fabrics to make the outfits for the LC theatre department. She also goes to fabric stores and secondhand shops in order to find more materials. 

LC students who work in the theatre department also assist in making the costumes. They often design different patterns or try various stitching styles. The theatre department will then select their favorites, and the students will make the costumes based on their selection.

Located above the costume shop is the stockroom, where students work to organize all of the costumes. Students in LC theatre classes, or those involved in LC productions, are able to rent costumes from the stockroom. First, interested students must either make an appointment or visit during drop-in hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 3:30-5:30 p.m. Costume Shop Manager Sanaa Green ’23 will assist them in finding costumes and provide them with a return date and instructions on how to properly wash the costume. 

 Lizeth Gaxiola ’22 has been working in the costume shop since her freshman year. Gaxiola has been sewing for a long time and loves working in the shop.

“I really like that we get different tasks, we don’t have to focus on a single thing,” she said. 

Lauren Arriola ’24 does not have much experience sewing, but they have enjoyed learning new skills such as sewing, braiding admiral braids, working in the dye shop and making patterns. They really enjoy the creative aspect that comes with the job. 

“I think that the learning opportunity is the greatest thing ever,” Arriola said. “I really got the job without knowing how to sew, and was surprised I got the job.” 

Another student that has enjoyed the creativity that takes place in the costume shop is Jens Martin ’22. The senior has been sewing since middle school and has been working in the costume shop since his freshman year, along with Gaxiola.

“I really like that it is just a place that you can work at, in between classes, only for a couple of hours, and take your mind off of everything,” Martin said. 

Ampersand has been the costume shop manager for about three years and many of the student workers said they adore the work that she does to keep the shop running smoothly. Ampersand enjoys overseeing the projects and problem solving on how to bring students’ ideas and designs to life. 

Recently, Ampersand has been working with Amber Adamski ’22, a theatre major, with a focus in design. For Adamski’s senior thesis project, she is designing all the costumes for LC’s Main Stage production of “Medea,” which is almost entirely student-led.  

“It’s pretty exciting because most of the design team is senior thesis students,” Ampersand said. “It’s a rare occurrence in that department that many of the students will be designers for one show.” 

Adamski has been working in the costume shop since her sophomore year. She started to sew in  middle school because she could not find any clothes she liked in stores. The theatre major is really excited about the upcoming performance of  ”Medea” because of her love for historical fashion. 

“I think that the best feeling in the world is either wearing or seeing someone else wear something that you made, it’s just really cool,” Adamski said. 

The LC Theatre department will open the spring main stage production of Ancient Greek playwright Euripides’ “Medea” on March 11. “Medea” will be using the original text, but will be set in the 1950s. 

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