Eleesa Harrison is a senior specializing in costume design at Saginaw Valley State University.  She presents her senior project Curiouser & Curiouser A Wonderland Steampunk Adventure on Friday, October 21 from noon to 5 p.m. in the courtyard at SVSU. In case of rain, this free performance will move inside to the mezzanine located in Curtis Hall. 360 Main Street decided to find out a little more about costume design and Harrison's upcoming project performance. 

Jeanne Lesinski: What does someone studying costuming do exactly?

Eleesa Harrison: As a student studying costuming, I’ve incorporated costume design wherever I can. It's important to have a good knowledge of history and an understanding of sociology. Studying the work of current and past designers as well as fashion designers is helpful. The theater aspect of it is importan, but having an art background is more beneficial to the design and construction part. Sewing is another helpful skill.

JL: What kind of opportunities are there for a costumes specialist?

EH: Actually there are a lot of opportunities available for costume designers! Aside from working in theater, designers can find jobs working for Disney theme parks, cruise ships, film, television, commercials and even toy companies.

JL: What do you mean by "improved" performance of Alice in Wonderland?

EH: By “improved” I mean that none of the performance is scripted. The actors involved have done about 4 ½ months worth of character development work. This was to ensure that they know their characters in and out. Because directing is not something that I focused on, I wanted to ensure that the performance would showcase my work but have less pressure on the directing aspect and more on the costumes.

JL: Is this an original adaptation based on the Alice story?

EH: Yes, it is. Because there is a small budget given for a senior project, I chose not to pay to use a script and instead have all the actors do improv. It allowed me to have my main focus be showcasing the design aspect of the show.

JL: If so, who adapted it?

EH: This show was adapted by myself by choosing steam punk/ Victorian gothic as the design concept to influence the show. Alice in Wonderland is known by so many people that it was important to me to push the mold and do something unexpected.

JL: Did you create the costumes for this piece?

EH: Yes, I did. They all started with my design concept ,and the construction was all done by myself. There are six separate costumes, and the stagehands we are using are the “cards” from wonderland.

JL: Are you acting in it?

EH: No. Acting is not where my focus is, and because the purpose of this project is to showcase what I’ve learned about costuming, I chose a fantastic group of actors to work with. They have done a fantastic job at developing their characters and working well as a group.

JL: Who else is part of this performance?

EH: Samantha White plays Alice, Cameron Thorp plays The March Hare, Jessica Rockwell plays The Mad Hatter, Anita Forgie playsThe White Rabbit, Jordan Stafford plays The Cheshire Cat, Chris Lawitzke plays The Caterpillar.

Our stagehands are  Ashley Scharr, Blake Mazur, Mykaela Hopps, Tilly Dorgan, Dakota Myers and Brandon Mitchell. Our incredible stage manager is Mara Berton. Without her this show would not be what it is, and I’m very happy to have worked with her. We also have a great hair and makeup team. Michael Long is heading up the group, with Kelly Postal and Danielle McIntyre also working on hair. Our makeup artist is Jatima Simmons.

© 360 Main Street, 2011