Gearing Up for Fall Semester


We are getting ready to start-up fall semester next week and we have so many changes in the costume studio that have taken place over the summer! Amy and I are both supper excited! As everyone knows the most obvious change ( which seems to happen every year) will be the movement of furniture and the addition of furniture. Here is a list of items that have been added to our shop:

  • sewing tables
  • chairs
  • domestic machines (no more Janomes)
  • cabinets
  • computerized pattern archiving system
  • new computer access ID password (due to the new migration)
  • new studio email address & password (also due to the migration)
  • new way of checking in & out for time sheets (Graduate & UA Positions)
  • new veranda look complete with fuchsia painted picnic tables, lavender bistro set and plants!

These are just a few of the many changes that have taken place this summer. I am also pleased to tell you that we have a great head start on our first show of the semester, 3 Penny Opera! Fabric has been purchased, costumes have been pulled from stock,mock ups are in progress and one actor is ready for his mock-up fitting. Now all we need is a cast list! LOL.
Starting off a new year at UNCG is always a mixed blessing. On one hand we are excited for the students to get back because it has been so quiet all summer with just the two of us here. But on the other hand it is the quiet before the storm. Before we know it things will be crazy and time will go out the window before we know it the semester will be over. Then we will wonder where all the time went!
I am grateful though to still be here another year given the recent budget cuts our institution had to face this summer. We came really close to loosing some of our staff. We are uncertain about being able to survive another cut back next year so in the mean time we all have our fingers crossed and holding our breaths as we sludge through another year here at UNCG. I am sure this will be a wonderful year for our Theatre Department and we are all looking forward to it!

Paul Tazewell: A Costume Designer’s Exhibit

Paul Tazewell was born in Akron, Ohio and educated in the public school system. As an asthmatic child he couldn’t always engage in outside activities and
experimented with many artistic endeavors. He began his art career at an early age when his mother put food coloring on his high chair tray and gave him a pastry brush to paint with. He was always creating something. Paul made his first rag doll at the age of four and later became the delight of his elementary school art teacher because he won so many city school prizes. He wasn’t always a Costume Designer. In fact he built the spinning wheel for his 5th grade class play of Rumpelstiltskin. He had a great interest in puppetry and made several puppets for school projects, including Miss Haversham from Great Expectations and a character from Ain’t Misbehaving.
Paul acted in several plays in Junior High School and performed in the chorus of Pippin at one of the community theatres in Akron. He had the opportunity to attend a magnet performing arts high school where he acted in several plays and designed and built the costumes for The Wiz. He also played the character, the Wiz. It was during this time that he took his first trip to Broadway on a high school field trip. Paul was also able to attend a costume design class at Akron University for outstanding theatre students.
When the time came for Paul to go to college he was in a quandary as to whether he should go into dance or into costume design. He attended NC School of the Arts where he was only allowed to major in one discipline, so after much agony he chose costume design and received his BFA in Costume Design from NCSA. For his thesis he designed costumes for The Canterbury Tales. Paul then went on to Grad School at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where he earned his MFA in Set & Costume Design.
Paul began doing much of his work at Arena Stage in Washington D.C. and won his first Helen Hayes Award in 1994 for The African Company Presents Richard III. In 1996 he began his designing experience on Broadway with Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk. He was nominated for a Tony Award for this show, the first of four Tony nominations.
Paul has designed shows from the east coast to the west coast and in places in between such as Cleveland, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Santa Fe just to name a few. He has also designed costumes for the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Canada and for shows in London and Paris. In 2002 he designed masks and costumes for the Kenyan production of The Birds directed by his brother Jonathan. In 2007 he designed the costumes for Take Flight, the story of Amelia Earhart, a new musical produced in Japan. In 2003 Paul became an Associate Professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
Paul has always done research on his costumes, whether they are period costumes  such as The Color Purple which is spread over four decades, or fantasy costumes such as those of The Wiz. He studies the script, researches the dress, draws the sketches of the characters and finally chooses the fabric. The costumes are built by members of an inside or outside theatre shop but Paul does attend the fitting of the costumes.
Unlike many costume designers, Paul completes his sketches not only of clothing but of the features and often the accessories of the characters. Paul is currently working on the U.S. production of Faust which will open at the Metropolitan Opera in the late fall and on the traveling production of Memphis.
Paul’s awards and honors include: Lucille Lortel Award for On the Town, two Helen Hayes Awards for Outstanding Costume Design (The African Company Presents Richard III and Peer Gynt), a Michael Merritt Award, and the AUDELCO Award for Harlem Song. The TDF Irene Sharaff Young Master Award and a Princess Grace Fellowship.

Elsewhere Collaborative Artist Lecture on Historical Clothing

Ami Shupe (Professor from High Point University) and I decided to go check out a lecture that was being given by Jade Bettin and her graduate student Samantha Coles from the University of NC Chapel Hill’s Theatre Department. I figured this was a great opportunity to see some familiar faces and check out this place that I have heard so much about. I was not aware that Elsewhere had an internship and scholar program let alone that Samantha was there for the summer and working among the bolts of fabric and clothing there. This sounds like a wonderful opportunity for any student interested in the arts.

This lecture was very much like a class I took from the CARS Department at UNCG called “Dress, Identity and Culture”. Sam and Jade discussed the nature of clothing and how they represent who people want to be portrayed. Although I was already familiar with the topic at hand it was really nice to see this presentation being given to a room full of people who were there just for the entertainment of the topic.
of the most interesting parts of the discussion was the description of  Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.

Jade talked about how he consciously chooses what to wear in public as representation of his beliefs in a unified country. Afghanistan is a country divided by many beliefs and this president feels they can all come together and live peacefully beside one another. President Karzai dresses with multiple cultures in mind. Everything from the hat (not a turban), robe, blazer, kaftan and pants represents a different sect of his country.

It was wonderful to hear about political people using the same techniques Costume Designers use in the theatre all the time. She discussed everyone from Hillary Clinton with her power pant suits and low heels to Sarah Palin in her skirted suits with high heels to Casey Anthony and the difference in her appearance from her normal everyday court hearing (hair pulled tightly back with a tailored shirt) to the day she was planning on going home (hair down wearing a sweater).

Samantha also touched a bit on the Rococo and Victorian period with the frivolous clothing worn by the “Dandies” and corsets worn by the women. She even had a member of the audience come up and put a Mid-19th century corset on for all to see how it was worn and the difference it makes in the silhouette  of the body.

The lecture was approximately an hour-long with a slide presentation and then the floor opened up for discussion and questions. The members of Elsewhere mentioned the fact that they put on some of the collection’s garments on Fridays for the workshops and presentations that they host. After all that is the point of a “living museum” right? I was quite enamored by the place and look forward to going there again. I also intend on looking up more information about this intriguing place and of course take pictures. Everything within this museum is artfully placed and displayed. One can’t help but to look around with awe and inspiration.


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