Behind the Seams

A look at the costume makers in TheatreUNCA

When the curtain rose on MARAT/SADE, it wasn’t just the work of the actors seen on that stage. The production included an original score, beautiful costumes, an innovative set, and an in-depth understanding of the history, psychology and politics behind the story—created with the help of important players in departments all across campus.

The costumes for MARAT/SADE, which is set in early 1800s France, were meticulously researched and constructed by student costumer Justine Brownell (left), along with several costume shop assistants and volunteers. Brownell drew inspiration from artwork portraying French revolutionaries and paintings from the Napoleonic era.

Perhaps the most challenging costume was for the character of assassin Charlotte Corday, which took Brownell a full week to complete. “I had to design the dress, purchase fabric, make the pattern, construct a muslin mock-up, fit her in the mock-up, make adjustments, do another fitting, dye the fabric and shawl, construct the garment, fit her again, and complete all the finishing work—hems, closures and trim,” Brownell said. But the results made it all worthwhile.