All Dressed Up for Shakespeare

In conjunction with the First Folio exhibit, the Arizona Repertory Theatre will present "The Comedy of Errors" and "The Tempest."
Feb. 24, 2016

In the Costume Shop, sewing machines whir, scissors snip, and a flurry of thread and fabric are transformed into stage-ready works of art.

It's getting close to opening night, and students and employees in the School of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of Arizona are putting the finishing touches on garments that will help bring characters to life at the UA's Tornabene Theatre.

The crew is crafting costumes, accessories, wigs and makeup for two upcoming Shakespeare shows. Student actors in the school's Arizona Repertory Theatre will present "The Comedy of Errors" Feb. 29-April 2 and "The Tempest" March 6-April 3.

The productions are among a series of campus events celebrating the 400-year anniversary of William Shakespeare's death and the exhibit of the bard's First Folio at the Arizona State Museum, on display through March 15. The bound collection of Shakespeare's plays, printed in 1623, is on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library.

It's unusual for the Arizona Repertory Theatre to present two Shakespeare shows in the same season, but theatergoers are guaranteed a distinctly different visual experience at each.

"The Tempest" will be set in traditional Elizabethan times, with ornate and elaborate garb to match. Meanwhile, the set and costumes for "The Comedy of Errors" are inspired by Turkey in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Patrick Holt, assistant professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television, who designed the costumes for "The Tempest," considers costumes among the most important design elements for any production.

"When a body walks onstage, we make immediate assumptions about who that person is and what they're like based on what they're wearing, before they even open their mouth," Holt says.

Costumes for "The Comedy of Errors" were designed by costume design graduate student Sam Kate Toney.

Holt says the bustling Costume Shop helps prepare students for work in professional theater.

"There are a lot of different people working on a lot of different jobs," he says. "It's like a beehive — everybody knows their position, and it always works together. I'm really proud of the way we work here. We model our way of doing things after a professional system, and our students are really good at getting the job done."

For information about both productions, including dates, times and price of admission, visit the Arizona Repertory Theatre website.