Costume Tech Program Information

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Our general teaching philosophy

We are committed to preparing students for the professional theater and film markets. We offer MFA programs in
Costume Design, Costume Technology, and Costume Craft Technology. To develop survival skills for the
Broadway, regional theater, and feature film markets we offer a broad range of classes in design styles, costume
technology, and costume crafts which focus on the techniques and materials used throughout the profession.

To develop flexibility and collaboration skills we recruit students who are interested in more than one area of
technology and/or design. We strongly encourage students to study more than one area of specialization and require
an interdisciplinary core of courses in technology, design, history, photography, and computer graphics to this end.
Our MFA thesis "exit portfolio" requires both primary and secondary areas of achievement.

We believe a theater school needs to combine good training with professional opportunities and we make a point of
providing a variety of job placement and study opportunities in America and Europe. By grooming students for the
professional market from their entry into the program we are able to get students routinely placed in high-quality
professional theaters including: the Santa Fe Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, The Colorado Shakespeare Festival, the
Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Shakespeare Theater, Arena Stage, Baltimore Center Stage, Berkshire Theater,
Washington Opera, L.A. Opera, The Williamstown Theater Festival, and the Actor’s Theater of Louisville.

Program options

Each program requires an internship with a professional theater company, work on a “thesis production”, and the
creation of an “exit portfolio”  (a well-rounded portfolio showing an in-depth variety of both produced and project
work that is tailored to professional interviews). Designers are given a culminating design assignment for their thesis
production; technicians head the costume or craft shops and take on challenging construction or craft assignments for
their thesis production. By the end of the first year of study students must declare their primary and secondary areas
of interest.

Our standard MFA programs entail 3 years of training, but there are “compressed programs” available for very
advanced students and “extended programs” available for students who wish to do professional internships in
dual or triple areas.

Program standards

Our mainstage productions are staffed and built to meet regional theater standards so that our students will understand
the industry’s design and construction standards and will develop professional portfolios.  Technical exit portfolio
standards are based on Broadway, Hollywood, and Lort A regional theater studio standards. Our graduates are
working on Broadway, in the LA film market and in regional theaters across the country. Our best technical grads have
gone on to run the craft departments at the Santa Fe Opera and the Metropolitan Opera and to be assistant shop
managers and cutters at regional theaters.

Preparation for the professional market through on and off-campus opportunities

Our goal for all of our students is to create a variety of on campus and off-campus work opportunities that will give
students a professionally viable resume and portfolio when they enter the work force. In support of this:

  • Over the course of their training student technologists work as first hands, drapers, craft artisans and crew
    heads on campus.
  • As a faculty we help students shape student portfolios and resumes for professional interviews and we
    require students to attend at least one national conference such as USITT or SETC so that they may participate
    in portfolio reviews, job interviews, and design or technical showcases.
  • To develop professional resumes students are urged to work in a variety of professional internships and job
    placements during our extended winter break (Thanksgiving to Jan. 1), during the summer breaks, and during
    their third year of study. Internships with professional companies are custom tailored to suit the strengths and
    career goals of individual students.
  • We also offer one quarter student exchange programs with the Arts Institute at Bournemouth and Poole in England.

The Costume Tech Program of Study

The first year of the tech program

The first year of training for costume technicians stresses foundation and collaboration skills. Students take classes in
script analysis, costume history, art history, costume design, draping, tailoring, flat patterning, costume crafts,
photography, and Photoshop.

In the first year of study all students develop technical portfolios for professional interviews in tech classes and
working on mainstage productions. Students are encouraged to take advantage of internship and job opportunities
during school breaks. At the end of the first year of study students reaffirm or declare their intention to graduate as a
design, technology, or crafts major. Second and third year crew assignments, course work and thesis production
assignments will all depend on the student’s declaration of a major.

The second year of the program

The second year of training concentrates on developing breadth of technique in each student's core area of
concentration with classes in Period Understructures, Couture Techniques, Dancewear or Bias Draping. Secondary
area coursework in costume painting, costume crafts, or costume design explores new techniques and materials.
Core area interdisciplinary coursework includes courses in 20th Century Costume History, lighting,and properties
construction or set design. Second year programs allow all costume students to pursue elective coursework in other
areas of theater design and technology, film production, and studio art.

Second year students are strongly encouraged to enter work into national technology showcases and to explore student
exchange programs or internships abroad. Students are expected to work at a top quality professional studio in the summer
or take on a managerial position at an approved theater with good standards.

The third year of the program

The third year of study is individually tailored to prepare the student to enter the professional market in the type of
work they would most like to pursue; assignments and advanced projects are all designed to support the preparation
of a portfolio and resume that will appeal to the student’s target market.. In this final year of study students work for
a quarter as an intern at a high-quality professional design or costume studio, develop work on a large-scale thesis
production as a shop head, and finish the development of their exit portfolio. Specialized studies involve advanced
work on shop management, speed draping, and advanced construction techniques.

In the third year of study students are again strongly encouraged to enter work into national convention showcases and
competitions. For technicians this includes submission of work for USITT’s Weisfeld scholarship.


OU is on the quarter system with students taking 18 credits each quarter in the Fall, Winter, and Spring. Craft students
take a crafts class each quarter of their residency. Over the course of 3 years students generally take 144 to 162 credits,
but a student can complete the program in 135 credits (one quarter short of 3 years) with careful advising. Students may
petition for advanced placement on entry into the program .

Academic Studies 12 credits

  • Intro to Grad Studies (THAR 500) 4 credits
  • History or Dramatic Theory 8 credits
          (Theater History, Art History, Film History, Dance
            History, or Historical Bases of Design THAR 538 A&B

Interdisciplinary Studies 18 credits

  • Set Design (THAR 534) or Properties Construction (THAR 536F)  4 credits
  • Costume Design (THAR 532) 4 credits
  • Lighting Design or Electrics (THAR 531A or B or 631) 4 credits
  • Performance Photography (THAR 536K) 2 credits
  • Digital Drawing: Photoshop 4 credits

Applied Studies 30 credits

  • Practicum (THAR 535, 635) 15 credits
  • Professional Internship (THAR 733) 15 credits
    (The Professional Internship consists of a minimum of 10 weeks of work in a high caliber professional studio in
    the US or in an International training program or studio.  All Internship venues must be approved by the faculty
    advisor and job performance is evaluated in 2 ways: 1) the studio supervisor will fill out an evaluation form provided
    by the SOT, and 2) students will document their work at the studio and develop a presentation of that work for the
    faculty advisor’s review. The program requires one full 10-week internship in the final year of training but we also
    strongly advise directed elective internships with high-caliber professional companies during the first two years of study.)

Thesis 26 credits

  • Exit Portfolio Preparation (THAR 738) 6 credits
  • Research Study (THAR 779) 2 credits
  • Thesis Production (THAR 735 prep & production) 10 credits
  • Advanced studio or internship (THAR 739 & 733) 8 credits

The Costume Tech Studio 45 credit core:

  • Costume Crafts (THAR 636C) 4 credits
  • Costume History (THAR 538) 8 credits
  • Sewing techniques (THAR 536D, Tailoring, Couture Techniques) 8 credits
  • Draping, & Patterning (THAR 636D Draping and Flat Patterning,
    739B Bias techniques, 739D Dancewear, 739E Understructures) 12 credits
  • Costume Design (for film THAR 632) 4 credits
  • Costume Painting & Dyeing (THAR 636P) 4 credits
  • Directed Electives 5 credit minimum
    (Chosen from: Studio Art, Film Production, Off-campus tech work, additional
    classes in design or technology, additional internship, production design)

The Costume Tech Thesis includes:

1. Work as the costume shop head on a Thesis production.

The thesis production assignment is designed to be a culminating test of the technical and collaborative skills the
student has gained as a manager through earlier crew assignments on the mainstage. Your production assignment
is made by your advisor and the work requires developing detailed research and planning for a complex production
(including a production bible), purchasing all shop supplies, and running the costume shop for the production which
includes tracking and processing purchasing, developing shop calendars and construction assignments, supervising
the daily work of the crew and the drapers, coordinating fittings, and coordinating/collaborating with the costume
designer, guest artists, the craft shop, the wardrobe crew, the stage manager, and all production meetings.

2. An Exit Portfolio & Exit Interview

The exit portfolio must display the range and depth of your craft expertise through a minimum of 6 different projects
that feature a variety of materials and advanced challenges. The portfolio must include pages that document the scale
and complexity of the thesis production; and at the exit interview the portfolio must be accompanied by the produciton
bible for the thesis production. Portfolio projects and formats must target the professional standards and focus of the
area(s) of the entertainment industry the student wishes to enter (e.g. the film or television industry, the Broadway
theater market, the international opera or dance market, and/or the regional theater market).

The exit portfolio must also include a secondary area of emphasis displayed in a minimum of 3 major projects that reflect
a solid grounding in an additional area of design or technology.

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