Senior Drama major Erin Kleiber took time out of her busy schedule to answer questions
about her work as a costume designer for the spring mainstage, Three Sisters, and
her design process:
As a student designer working on a mainstage how has the experience been for you?
Up until I designed Three Sisters, my practical design work had been for senior studios. The scope of costume designing a mainstage has been exponentially larger than my typical work: the cast size, the budget, the production time, the work force, all of it is bigger than I’m used to. It is simply magical to see designs that come from my mind turn into actual, physical entities.
What are some of the unique challenges of working on a Chekhov and specifically Three Sisters?
The action of the play takes place over the course of several years, with significant amounts of chronological time between each act. There are over a dozen characters, each of which has their own individual story. Synthesizing all of these characters and timelines was the primary challenge of designing Three Sisters.
What was your design process for Three Sisters?
After reading through the script, I made a list of what I absolutely needed – things that were specifically called for the script, or things that the characters mention in their lines. After that came lots and lots of period research, and trying to figure out how I could practically tell the story of the play with the resources that I had at my disposal.
Do you have a favorite piece or costume in the show?
Chekhov calls for Natasha (freshman Zeina Masri) to have a wonderfully hideous pink and green dress in Act I of the play. She’s an outsider – a girl from the village – desperately trying to fit in with the family and way overdoes it. Getting to concoct something intentionally ridiculous was very fun. Senior Lily Key, who works as a draper in the Shop, built the dress and it turned out simply fantastic.
How has working on Three Sisters and directly collaborating with the faculty in the Drama Department influenced your growth as a young artist?
Knowing that faculty at the Drama Department value my work enough to ask me to design a mainstage production is huge; the fact that people who have worked in the professional realm recognize my work as worthwhile and substantive has inspired me continue to pursue a career in costume design.
When did you first become aware that you were interested in costume design?
I can remember doodling costume designs back when I was middle school. In college, after taking the department’s course in Stage Design and working as the costume designer for several senior studios, I realized that costume design was something I was both good at and interested in. I was fortunate enough to be given opportunities to expand beyond just doodling my ideas and make them genuine and practical realities that an audience can appreciate on stage.
What is next for you? What are your plans following graduation in May?
I’m currently applying for internships at theatres including Julliard, Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC and the Undermain Theatre here in Dallas.