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.
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.
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 Crafts Program of Study
The first year of the crafts program
The first year of training for costume craft artisans stresses foundation skills and materials. Students take classes in script analysis, costume history, costume design, properties construction, draping or flat patterning, costume crafts, costume dyeing and painting and Photoshop. Team-taught craft and costume painting courses offer a wide variety of projects with different types of materials so that students can retake the courses each year to explore different materials. The winter quarter THAR 636C Costume Crafts and Props Techniques course explores sculptural craft techniques and materials used in fabricating hats (from buckram, felt, straw, or foam), face casts (using alginate and plaster), masks (in leather or thermoplastics), armor (in felt, fiberglass, or metal), jewelry (in felt, metal or resin cast), and animal heads (in Varaform or reticulated foam). The spring quarter THAR 636P Costume Painting course explores fabric printing (with stamps, stencils, photo transfer, and photo silkscreening), dyeing (cold and hot processes), distressing (for film and theater venues), direct dye painting, discharge and resist techniques, and silicone applique techniques.
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, craft, or props 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 areas of concentration. Advanced coursework in costume crafts and costume painting focuses on new materials and mold making techniques; secondary area coursework in properties construction, costume construction, or costume design continues to explore advaned techniques. Core area interdisciplinary coursework includes courses in lighting, 20th century costume history, history of art or interiors, photography for the stage, and history of film, theater, or photography.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 a 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 crew head, and finish the development of their exit portfolio. Specialized studies may involve advanced work on theater, opera, dance, or television and film projects.
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.
CORE REQUIREMENTS OF THE PROGRAM
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 4 credits
- Costume Design (THAR 532) 4 credits
- Lighting Design (THAR 531A or 631) 4 credits
- Performance Photography (THAR 536K) 2 credits
- Digital Drawing: Photoshop or AutoCad 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 Crafts Studio 45 credit core:
- Costume Crafts (THAR 636C and 739) 12 credits
- Costume History (THAR 538) 8 credits
- Sewing, Draping, & Patterning (THAR 536D, 636D &/or 739) 8 credits
- Costume Design (for film THAR 632) 4 credits
- Costume Painting & Dyeing (THAR 636P) 8 credits
- Advanced Prop Techniques (THAR 636F-G) 4 credits
- Directed Electives 5 credit minimum
(Chosen from: Studio Art, Film Production, Off-campus tech work, additional
classes in costume design or technology, additional interdisciplinary
studies in scene painting, soft goods construction, rigging,or film production)
The Costume Crafts Thesis includes:
1. Work as the costume craft shop head on a Thesis production.
The thesis production assignment is designed to be a culminating test of the artistic 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 craft materials, and running the costume craft shop for the production.
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.