The Theatre School’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Costume Technology is designed to train students as theatrical craftsmen, drapers, cutters, and costume shop managers. Costume Technology students learn to translate designs into the garments and clothing actors wear. Students learn a variety of allied arts and crafts and take a progression of business management coursework. Students collaborate with directors, dramaturgs, designers, and our professional costume shop staff.
Students learn from a distinguished award-winning faculty of professional designers and artists both in the classroom and through individual guidance and advising during production work. Students receive formal and informal feedback from faculty through portfolio presentations and exhibits of their work each year.
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The first year curriculum is taken in collaboration with other design and technical students and is an immersion into the culture of production and design. Students explore thinking metaphorically and abstractly with an appreciation of design and technology as an aesthetic distinct from other art forms. Students learn the basics of draping and cutting and specialized sewing techniques for costuming. They begin a drawing progression and take course work in stage make-up in The Makeup Shop. Students complete three production crew assignments which will usually include one or two assignments in their area of study and one or two in another area of production.
In the second year students focus on the vocabulary and historical precedent of costuming and costuming techniques while developing creative responses to plays and characters. Students continue their drawing progression with rendering and explore period style elements through a survey of art, architecture, fashion, and furniture. Students work throughout the year as assistant draper/cutters in our production season.
In the third year, students hone their craft skills with a variety of materials and explore the issues related to costume shop management including business management, human resources, and ethics. Students work as draper/cutters for our production season and work collaboratively with designers to implement and construct their designs.
The fourth year is a transition year, further developing students’ abilities and preparing students to enter the profession. In-class projects are primarily independent studies tailored to individual student interest and career goals. Students continue work in our production season and have the option of a professional internship of their choosing.
At the end of each year, The Theatre School hosts a Graduate Showcase event to showcase the work of our graduating design students. Under the guidance of the faculty, graduating designers prepare a showcase exhibit of their portfolio – which is presented in Chicago for artistic directors, alumni, and other members of the theatre, film, and television industries.
In addition to the theatre training curriculum, students complete 52 quarterly credit hours (13 courses) in the university's Liberal Studies Program. Courses are taken in theatre history, writing, quantitative reasoning and technological literacy, philosophical inquiry, religious dimensions, scientific inquiry, understanding the past, multiculturalism in the United States, and electives. These liberal studies courses are scheduled during the first three years of the program.
Every student receives quarterly evaluation and feedback from faculty. Evaluations are based on discipline, collaboration, professional potential, and progress in the program.