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Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Production – Costume Design Emphasis

What Our Program Offers You

The Costume Design Emphasis of the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Design and Production program is crafted for talented designers in preparation for a professional career in theatre.  The program gives students the opportunity to explore and expand their artistic and visual expression while enabling practical experience. We provide hands-on, intensive training in a variety of costume design and technology classes, such as Costume Rendering, Pattern Drafting, and Fashion History. Our students have the opportunity to design costumes for both our mainstage and second stage seasons. In addition, costume design students are often employed by us for our professional summer theatre company, Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre, which produces four large musicals every summer.  

  • A robust and diverse academic season, consisting of musicals, straight plays, dance concerts, theatre for youth productions, and an opera, in two performance spaces (proscenium stage and black box).
  • Resume and portfolio preparation taught every semester, including professional websites. The program enables students to graduate with an impressive portfolio of renderings and photographs of realized work..
  • Hands-on preparation for participation in professional  theatre conferences, connecting students with professional career opportunities in the summer and after graduation.
  • Opportunities to work in the Costume Shop through work study and class time, which both trains students in professional costume construction standards and provides opportunities to create portfolio material.
  • Large, well equipped costume shop with two hands-on, full time costume design professors.
  • Opportunities to design for a variety of repertoire, both onstage and in class. Costuming classes include two costume design classes and one rendering class, which hone students’ design and rendering skills.
  • Independent studies often available in advanced topics such as dyework and costume crafts.
  • Opportunities as undergraduates to design costumes for at least two productions, and often more.

First Year:

Freshmen costume design majors take classes in Stage Costuming and Makeup, introductory classes in the discipline, as well as Stage Craft or Stage Lighting. Theatre Drawing and Graphic Arts for Design are intensive graphics class for designers, and prepare students for more advanced design courses. Theatre Appreciation is an introductory course taken by all theatre students, and introduces theatre as a living art. 

Second Year:

Sophomores complete the introductory design/technical theatre sequence with either Stage Craft or Stage Lighting.  Costume Construction is an advanced sewing class that covers many techniques and culminates with the building of a period corset. History of Fashion I and II are essential components of the degree, looking at how history is reflected in clothing. Advanced Stage Makeup explores wigs and facial hair, masks, special effects, and advanced techniques such as slush casting. Students also now attend Performance Forum, a weekly meeting of all design/technology students to discuss current productions and to develop resumes and portfolios. As sophomores, students assist faculty members with costume designs for season productions.

Third Year:

Juniors take Costume Rendering, a course devoted to developing rendering skills, as well as Pattern Drafting, an advanced course in making theatrical patterns. Juniors also take classes in Scenic Design, Lighting Design, and Directing, to ensure that they are well-rounded theatre professionals. Students usually have their first realized design as juniors; either on the 2nd Stage season or the Theatre for Youth touring production.

Fourth Year: 

Students will have the opportunity through their Technical Theatre Theses to realize two designed shows; often, students will design pieces for the Faculty Dance Concerts. History of Theatre 1 and 2 introduce students to the history of our field. Juniors and seniors also take their choice of nine theatre electives and six technical production electives.