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Behind the Scenes: Exploring the Costume Shop with Joanne Martin

Sunday, Mar. 1, 2009

When looking around the Santa Clara University costume shop, "sustainable," may not be the first adjective that pops into your head. But upon closer inspection, it is easy to see the ways in which sustainable is a fitting description for costume shop activities. Reusing and recycling is at the very heart of what Costume Shop Supervisor Joanne Martin does.

A costume storage area is located in the basement of Mayer Theater, holding an extensive collection. When costumes are being selected for a new production, the designer typically checks the costume storage area for pieces that may work for the show. After choosing possible selections, alterations are made to fit the physical needs of the actor as well as any other needs unique to the show's demands. For example, the workshop production "Over the Mountain" required costumes to have an aged look to them. This was accomplished in a way that didn't permanently age the costumes, thus allowing for reuse in future productions. Martin and her skilled team of workers are able to handle most costume needs, and purchasing any new pieces is always a last resort. Any costume components are generally found at local thrift stores.

Martin does her best to ensure sustainable operations in the shop. Dyes used on clothing and shoes are the most environmentally friendly offered. Non-hazardous waste produced in the dying process is properly disposed of--not flushed down the drain. When it was time to purchase a new washing machine, she elected to purchase a Fisher&Paykel, Energy Star certified unit, which uses only 24 percent of the energy of a traditional washer. Martin has even used bamboo fabric in certain costumes, which is more sustainable than most textile fibers.

Most importantly, Martin has implemented practices focusing on health safety and sustainability. Aerosol hairspray is banned from dressing rooms because of it's negative environmental impacts. She encourages students to read the labels of everything--especially items relevant to Theater and Dance students such as dyes, glues, and makeup.

Next time you're enjoying a SCU theatre or dance production, be sure to appreciate the costumes! Read more about Joanne Martin.

Interview by Jennifer Gore, '09, Sustainability Intern.

Tags: Curriculum, Program Highlights, Waste



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