On campus costume shop gives life to productions

Kristina Burton

Those who attended “Curtains,” “Evening of Dance,” or similar productions from the WKU Theatre & Dance programs, have seen the finished works of the WKU Costume Shop firsthand.

Jennie Ingram, the WKU Costume Shop supervisor, said the shop builds and provides costumes for WKU Theatre & Dance productions.

“Any performance on our stage, outside the Music Department, comes through us,” Ingram said.

There are many different jobs within the WKU Costume Shop, including stitcher, draper, first-hand and even professional shopper.

“We do jobs that would be ten different jobs in the professional world,” Ingram said.

Ingram, the daughter of parents who didn’t like toys, received a sewing machine when she was 6 years old.

“They’d say, ‘Go in another room and don’t come back until you’ve made something,’ so I was making potholders, place mats, and doll quilts at age 6 and seven,” she said.

Ingram said it was while doing theatre in high school that she really jumped into making costumes.

“I realized I could do professional theatre and costuming as a career, which seems like, ‘Someone is gonna pay me to play all day?’” Ingram said. “You can’t just wander into it, but it’s something you can find your way to.”

To Ingram, every day at the WKU Costume Shop is completely different.

“You can be responsible for coming to work every day, but we don’t have the same things to do every day,” Ingram said. “Every show is like a whole new world, just like reading a new book is not like reading the last one you read.”

Ingram believes that theatre is one of the hardest majors, and she has a hard time with people who think theatre is an “easy” major.

“If you’re pre-med, no one’s expecting you to work as a doctor at night. In theatre, you spend all day in classes and all night in rehearsal or designing, building, etc.,” Ingram said.

Having previously asked students if they needed a day off, Ingram found they often said they’d rather be in the Costume Shop.

“I think that says a lot—not only about the job but the environment,” Ingram said. “This is a creative place. We work hard and get filthy, but sometimes we get to dress up in ridiculous clothing just because it’s lying around.”

Ingram said costuming is a kind of art that doesn’t change much or very quickly.

“There will be no new invention to replace the sewing machine,” Ingram said. “There will be no new way to put costumes together besides sewing them. We practice all our tips and tricks every day.”

When it comes to hiring new students to work in the shop, the goal is to make the best group possible.

“We aren’t going to hire a Sad Sally or a Negative Nancy because they won’t contribute to the good humor of the shop,” Ingram said.

Villa Hills senior Rebecca Trimbur is a student employee at the WKU Costume Shop.

“I came in [to WKU] completely unskilled when it comes to sewing,” Trimbur said. “But in about three to four years, the costume shop has taught me to be a skilled worker. And I can get jobs like that.”

Trimbur said she works in the WKU Costume Shop because of the atmosphere, which she will miss when she graduates next week.

“Every costume shop I’ve interviewed with, I ask about their atmosphere because I’ll be coming from an awesome family here,” Trimbur said.