Stitching Together a Masterpiece
- September 30, 2011 • Fall 2011
You may not have seen Beatrice Eisenhour (’11), affectionately known as “Bea,”center stage during the spring 2011 production of “Cinderella,” but you saw all of her costume designs. Eisenhour is one of the first students to design all of the costumes for a production. Not only has Eisenhour displayed her skills in costume design, but also in directing; she co-directed the 2011 winter production of “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Recently, she answered some questions about her role in “Cinderella.” Here’s Bea, in her own words.
LANDING THE ROLE OF HEAD COSTUME DESIGNER
When we applied for our projects last year, I had been strongly considering grad school for costume design and requested to design as much as I could. “Cinderella” was chosen to be my project. At first I had thought that I would be the head designer working with one or two assistants; however, when this school year started, a few meetings with the director and my advisors revealed that I was going solo. This is actually something that is quite unusual. As far as I can remember, only one other student, Erin Bryant (‘04), has been given an entire show to design and she was hired as the costume shop supervisor upon graduation. And she is pretty much brilliant, so I felt really honored to be trusted with a whole show, especially as it is the biggest show of the year.
THE DESIGN PROCESS, ONE STITCH AT A TIME
I started off my process researching the time period. We decided to loosely base the show in the 1700s, focusing on Georgian and Rococo styles. I began researching last summer, looking at the history, art, architecture and, of course, fashion.
When I got a good feel for the era, I got into the text, with a thorough analysis of the characters. I read through the script as each lead or group, focusing only on that character and taking notes. My next step was to start finding conceptual research images. I looked at each character and searched (usually Google images) words that popped into my head when I thought about them. Then I took all the pictures that inspired the way I felt about the character and made a collage compiled in a PowerPoint presentation. This was shared with the director and design team to see if we were on the same page. From there I began looking through several books and websites for specific concept images for style and color. I also pulled those into a PowerPoint so it was easier to show people. Then I started rough sketches based on those images, which then had to be talked through with the director. Some of my designs are directly pulled from actual pieces of clothing.
PLANS FOR THE FUTURE
I will be living at or near my home, volunteering at a nearby community theatre, New World Arts in Goshen, Ind. Then I would like to move to California to be near my sister, niece and nephew and find a job in theatre there. In the next five-to-seven years, I also have a goal to spend at least a year in