Kelsey loves to wear a cool beard.
We are pleased to present you with another actor spotlight, this time on actor-manager and resident costume designer Kelsey Tomlinson. Right now, she is getting ready to put her designs for Complete Works…on our stage for the third time while she preps for the exciting design challenge of 1776.
Read on to see what she thinks the best part of costume designing, what the worst part is (spoiler: it’s not laundry), and why purple underpants always make her laugh.
Why play with us at Ohio Shakes?
I started working with the company in summer 2015 and was immediately struck by the fun everyone has on stage and the passion with which they work. There's also a tremendous feeling of teamwork and family, and I knew early on that I wanted to stay a part of it. I began as primarily an actor and now have worked my way up from stitcher to production Costume Designer. I'm learning and growing a lot as a professional, and am having a blast doing it--Ohio Shakes is quite a gem in that way.
What is up next for you?
I am STOKED to do costumes for 1776. It'll be one of the most research-driven projects I've worked on, and I'm really excited to dive into the nitty-gritties of getting everyone's costume accurate. Also, there are several ladies in men's roles. I've got some ideas for making them men's clothing that's era-appropriate, but doesn't necessarily hide the fact that they're women.
Favorite Ohio Shakes Role to date?
At this point, I'd probably have to say the Third Witch in M**Beth. I so appreciated the completely different personalities each witch had (per Dir. Terry and Asst. Dir. Tess) and mine was (I may be biased) the most fun: clairvoyant! Imagine the simultaneous shock and terror of getting a glimpse of the future and seeing M**Beth's fate! Plus the costume was hella fun, thanks to my fellow Resident Costume Designer, Marty LaConte. Wig, beard, and bone dice.
What do you love about shakespeare?
I love how applicable his works are, even now, 400 years later. We all understand love, laughter, and loss— those, and the many other themes beautifully woven into everything he's written. There's also the layers. Like, beginner Shakespeare watchers might not receive every word, but you understand what's going on because it almost transcends language. Then, as you look more and more at the text, and really dig in, you realize there's even MORE to discover. It's never ending, and so much fun!
What’s the best part about being a costume designer?
First of all, I love making things, and always have. Getting to envision something, then find the fabric, then make it, then enhance it with details--ugh I'm getting excited just thinking about it. But there's something I love about getting to add a little piece to the story. Costumes are one of the elements that helps transport the actors and audience to the right time period, the right state of mind, whatever. I especially like doing things for the actors--putting people in the same color/theme who belong together, tacking surprises on the lining of the fabric, adding some element for their character that only they might ever notice--those kinds of things. Something to make it more than just putting people in clothes.
What’s the worst part of designing?
It would be so easy to say laundry, because laundry really does suck. But for me it's the heavy lifting. Clothes are heavy, and if I don't have racks or carts at my disposal, I have a hard time. And I'm an athletic person! I actually think I can credit my triceps to shoving clothes to and fro on racks. Also the waste. I try to remedy this by repurposing curtains/tablecloths/sheets to make costumes, rather than buying new fabric. Then, cutting fabric means lots of scraps, so I'm constantly working to not just throw it away--I donate to quilting clubs, and am working on making small things with the fabric we've used in shows.
Share a memorable ohio shakes moment with us.
Oh my God, this will never not be funny. Jason played the Second Witch in M**Beth, and had to "escape" by slipping down a trap door. Thing was, he had to leave behind his cloak. On day-one of costume tech, he had only a pair of bright purple underwear on underneath! I'm having a good chuckle even now, remembering him shimmying through the hole in the stage in just a pair of purple underwear into the ready arms of Buddy, who was waiting below as a spotter.