Clara Woodfield is a Brenau University junior BFA Theatre Design & Technology major with a focus in Costumes Technology. When Clara first enrolled here in GTA, they started as an acting major, but now Clara has found a passion for technical design and costuming. Clara shares about their transition from acting to costumes and what inspires them today.
What are you working on currently?
Clara: In the shop, I’m working on repairs. I finished a sculpted mask for The Tempest a few weeks ago and I’m working on a corset as a personal project.
What or who motivates you?
Clara: My siblings in Alpha Gamma Delta have been SO supportive of everything I do. When I wasn’t sure if I wanted to change my major, they were there to help me. They hype me up when I’m about to run a show and help me work through road bumps in my costumes, and I just really want to make them proud.
What inspires you and your work?
Clara: It’s few and far between, but when I design I’m really inspired by nature. I love taking pictures of nature, whether it’s a forest or the sky or a snowfall or a sunset and using them as inspiration for a costume. I also find myself inspired by my fellow costumers. Their work is ridiculously impressive, and they inspire me to strive to be the best I can be.
Other than costumes, what other side of technical theatre do you love?
Clara: Lighting! My favorite thing in shows are when the lights perfectly convey the tone of the scene and enhance the story. I get so excited when there’s creative lighting in shows.
Any advice on building up a portfolio?
Clara: TAKE PROGRESS SHOTS! Take pictures of every step of the way, it’s good to show how hard the build was because it’s not always obvious at first. Get creative. If you craft in your spare time and you make something you’re really proud of and could see it being relevant, put it in. I make flower crowns as a hobby and I have a whole section of my portfolio just on those.
The photo to the left is a creation of Clara’s called Megoosa. The headpiece is based on art by Teal Sather, that drew inspiration from the popular indie game, Untitled Goose Game. Each head has its own personality and is fully poseable. The bread is also removable.
What led you to switch from a BA in Theatre to a BFA in Design/Tech focusing in costumes?
Clara: My freshman year, I just really found my home in the costume shop. That’s one of the beauties of practicum. Don’t get me wrong, I still love acting, but I love costuming just as much if not more. I love watching flat fabric turn into beautiful costumes and the pride I get seeing them on stage, being performed in, is unparalleled. Aimee Johnson, GTA’s costume shop supervisor, encouraged me to pursue costuming as my degree because she saw something in me, and I’m so glad I’m here now. I found myself wanting to take more costume classes and fewer acting classes as the semesters went on, and switching my major allowed me to focus more on costumes.
What advice would you give to high school seniors or college students who want to make the transition but are unsure?
Clara: Don’t be afraid of change. I struggled with making the choice for a year and a half because I just refused to “give up” on acting. I still get opportunities to act, and if you find yourself feeling more at home in the shop and backstage, or you love challenging yourself with costumes, then talk to some of the costumers and the teachers! They will coach you through it and make sure whatever choice you make is good for you. BA degrees allow for more exploration than a BFA, so don’t be afraid to add a few costuming classes to your schedule!
The coronavirus has definitely changed our everyday lives. How has your experience been with hybrid classes?
Clara: It’s definitely challenging. I’m in person in the costume shop but two of my other costume classes are online and we meet through zoom. It’s difficult for my Theatrical Makeup class specifically because it’s not always apparent what my makeup actually looks like in my little zoom square. I think we’re all doing the best we can given the circumstances, and I’m still learning a lot!
What is your favorite part about GTA shows?
Clara: Backstage, I love the quick changes! I love a challenge, and quick changes are a true demonstration of just how in sync technicians and actors have to be. While it’s sometimes frustrating learning it and getting the timing right, the rush of adrenaline and pure joy you feel the first time you get it right and the actor gets changed and out on stage in twenty seconds flat? Wouldn’t trade it for the world. From an audience point of view, I love seeing all the technical elements come together and enhance the already fantastic story the actors are telling.
Why should aspiring theatre students choose GTA?
Clara: We’re a collaboration between two schools, so there are already more opportunities, and we hire professionals to come in to work on shows! It’s great for networking and it gives such insight to how it works out in the real world. My portfolio is already so full with pieces I’ve made and the opportunities here are endless. I’ve also found lifelong friends in the program, and I’m so excited to see where they go!