Undergraduate student gets chance to design for mainstage show
by Logan Beck
Senior theater major Grace Martin spent her high school years studying voice, but now explores her childhood love of costumes as a design student in Temple’s Department of Theater.
For Martin, costuming is a vital piece of the performance. “I come from a background of acting, so I feel that costuming is that extra puzzle piece that completes a character,” Martin said. “I feel that it helps the actor to fully transform into a different person.”
Martin was selected as an undergraduate designer for Temple Theater’s production of A Free Man of Color, a drama by John Guare, making her the first undergraduate designer in several years.
She began working on her concepts last February, and describes her designs as a “dress-up box.”
“All of the characters have a base outfit, and then they’re going to change a jacket or a hat and be a different character,” Martin said. “Or they’ll put on a wig, or some little piece. but sometimes something like that can limit your design because you have to do what’s best with your actor.”
For inspiration, Martin looked to tarot cards because of the colors and potential to relate each card to a different character in the show. According to Martin, this kind of preparation is essential to preparing designs that are cohesive with the production.
“I start off my process by doing a lot of research,” Martin said. “Once I’ve researched each character I start drawing.”
After thoroughly researching the show and the necessary costumes for each character, Martin collaborate with the actors to gain their perspective on how they think their character should dress. The nature of the show presents another unique challenge for Martin, as each actor plays several characters.
“I like to listen to their ideas about the characters if I see them, I’ll ask them ‘how are you envisioning this character’ and I’ll listen to what they say and tweak it in their costume,” Martin said.
Martin attributes much of her success to her work study job in the costume shop, where she learned to sew and worked with others to help put on Temple productions.
“I think that I have learned so much in my four years here that I feel that Temple has molded me into a person that I can go out and get a job after graduation,” Martin said. “I feel like this department has a very family-like atmosphere, and we all work very hard together to do these shows.”
With A Free Man of Color quickly approaching, Martin is anxious to see the actors in their costumes and the result of hours of her hard work.
“This is an incredible opportunity and I’m just so thankful for it,” Martin said. “With that comes great responsibility, but I feel like that sparks my adrenaline to do my best.”
Post-graduation, Martin would like to have a film or design job in New York or Los Angeles. She encourages other students in her career path to pursue their goals and continually work hard at their craft.
“Follow your passion and if you focus hard enough on something you love, you can get such a great opportunity as this is,” Martin said.
Performance of A Free Man of Color begin on November 11 in Randall Theater.