I have these Costume Rooms

Written By: Emily Eckhardt (’15)

So, when Ms. Figg-Franzoi asked me if I could so kindly write her a blog post about a month ago, I replied yes, not thinking that I would be typing it up a month after I had finished hand writing it. So, here it is.

Emily Eckhardt
Emily Eckhardt

This somewhat short segment of writing is supposed to be about my independent study and my so greatly anticipated plans after high school. I will delve into those things, don’t worry, but I will also touch on the thing that has really changed my life over the course of these four years and that is my experience in costume crew. I will start with my independent study though.

Emily fixing a costume she made for "Around the World in 80 Days"
Emily fixing a costume she made for “Around the World in 80 Days”

I was granted the opportunity to create my own class on what I love to do most for two trimesters. I would never have been able to do this without the help of my costume crew and Ms. Figg-Franzoi. Anyway… The two trimesters consisted of learning the fundamental steps of costume designing and practicing them. The first half of this class was during the second trimester of this past year. I focused on studying and taking notes from “The Costume Designer’s Handbook” which, coincidentally, is a book that I am required to have for my college courses next year. Taking what I learned from the helpful guide, I went through the process, step-by-step, with an unrealized (never put on) production. I chose the musical Annie because it was the first musical that I had ever seen. Okay. Anyway. I presented the work and steps that I had done at the production of The Mikado, as a display board. This was my practice run.

Emily's Costume ladies for "Arabian Nights"
Emily’s Costume ladies for “Arabian Nights”

The 2nd half, which was this past trimester, I got to work with the Theatre Production Seminar class on the spring production Arabian Nights, putting everything I had learned into action. While making some mistakes, I learned through trial and error so many important lessons that are things I really needed to learn. Like how to make lists and manage my time, apparently character plots are important. Now I get to spend the rest of this trimester cleaning and organizing the costume room one last time, as well as compiling a guide filled with my experiences and things I have learned through this past year and these past four years.

Figg and Emily's relationship summed up in a photo
Figg and Emily’s relationship summed up in a photo

My future plans are what I am most excited for. I get to continue  learning and living in a world of theater and costuming. After a year filled with anxiety, all nighters, interviews, productions and horrible math that I will most definitely never see again (thank you theater major) I have finally found the place I will be spending the next four years of my life. I was originally discouraged from this pursuit and was told I needed a “plan b” or  “something more secure” as a major. But despite that, I was surrounded by support from my family at home and my amazing family here at Homestead in the Drama Club, and especially in Costumes. The costume girls of the past (my seniors and beyond) who had become my best friends since I was just a little freshman, and the present, are the biggest reason that I can say that I am going to do what I love next year. Of course, I can’t forget all of the support and encouragement  (though not always shown in the most straightforward of ways) and the letter of recommendation that I had gotten from Ms. Figg-Franzoi. She was a huge part of my success in pursuing my passion further and not giving up on myself. Thanks to all of this, I will be attending the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati which ultimately won the battle against the ever famous Emerson, SUNY Purchase and The Theater School at DePaul University.

4G7A8797Last year, my college essay prompts all asked the same question; “what is some place that feels like home?” My answer was simple. I wrote about the one place that has impacted my life throughout these four years and I think that is the best representation of how much I have come to love, and will miss, this place. It has become a part of me and everyone in it has become people that I can call my best friends. I wouldn’t have such an amazing future without it and so, I am going to leave you with the words that pretty much got me into college. My depiction of the last four years spent in these concrete rooms above the stage that have given me more than I can express.

The costumes hiding our Fantasy closet
The costumes hiding our Fantasy closet

When I reach the top of the stairs, the stress of a long day of school is replaced with a rush of comfort and relief. Entering the tiny room to my right, a range of loud voices and a mess of color and surprise awaits my arrival.  A comforting familiar stress lingers in the air as costumes are getting created, altered and designed. The floor is covered with a sea of fabric and needles that those who are unfamiliar with my little slice of heaven wouldn’t dare walk on without industrial work boots. The splitting headache I have should increase due to the loud noise and inconceivable mess, but instead it melts away as I take my place at the old cranky sewing machine that will warm up to me in a matter of minutes. This tiny room and its twin to the left have become my home over the duration of my high school experience.

Costume crew in the home... the girls dressing room
Costume crew in the home… the girls dressing room

The closets that are overflowing with costumes are hidden behind a wall of dresses that make going into each one an adventure all its own. Some would be sad because they don’t see the light of day for hours on end, but personally I enjoy the artificial sunlight beaming from the florescent lights. I love the 100 degree incandescent light bulbs that make anyone in the room feel like they’re in a movie.

The rhythm of the activity sounds like a zoo, indescribable noises fill the air creating a unique harmony as each voice joins together. Booming laughter or a chorus of Disney songs can quickly became hushed conversations that don’t leave the confines of the concrete walls. Memories are created and my life is forever changed because of those two tiny, crowded, messy rooms. They are my sanctuary, my highlight to each day and my home away from home. Each holds its own world that open up like Narnia, waiting to be ventured into. I know that I will never not have a place to go, a place where I can’t be myself, because I have these costume rooms.”

Good luck next year to those who join this wonderful adventure. You’re in good hands I promise.

Emily Eckhardt (’15)

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