Costume designer Brianna Perry ’16 puts new theatrical design & technology major in action

Feb 22, 2016

Brianna “Bri” Perry ’16 loves designing, both inside and outside the classroom. As she prepares for a career in professional theatre, Perry is pairing her academic work with her involvement in the technical crew for the senior production, “Little Shop of Horrors.”

She’s the costume designer for the musical, which runs Feb. 25-28. “Creating a vision for a show is a very collaborative process and I usually rely on the mind of a director (and team of other designers) to give me a direction to come up with a design,” Perry says, who’s double-majoring in musical theatre and technical theatre and design. “In costume design class, we all act as our own director and full production team and don’t collaborate with anyone else, so my final design in class will be all my own ideas.”

This will be the third production Perry has designed costumes for at the College. As a designer, Perry decides what pieces to purchase, repurpose from previous productions or develop from scratch for the production. Her tasks include sketching, sewing and steaming, among others.  

Perry is constructing three corseted tops for the street urchins in “Little Shop of Horrors” on her own. Because of the design of these tops, they will be the most complicated pieces in the show. Perry also uses some unconventional methods when a pattern is not at hand. For example, she’s using the basic shape of a hospital gown to construct a buttoned women’s stole for one of the cast members. Elizabeth Bracken, assistant professor of theatre, provided guidance for this methodology.

“She tells us to find the thing you think you want to design and deconstruct it,” says Perry.  

This academic year, North Central College added theatrical design and technology to its majors, minors and programs. This new major allows students interested in theatre to develop technical theatre expertise, including stagecraft, makeup, lighting, costuming, scenic design and stage management. Perry added this major to her repertoire to pursue her interests and better prepare herself for a career in theatre.

Perry is refining her artistry in Costume Design, a new academic course for the major taught by Bracken. Students focus on the preliminary work for a production’s costume designs—idea communication, design and sketching.

After graduation, Perry hopes to work in theatre in any capacity, whether it’s directing, writing or costuming, with an overall goal of performing. Her academic work and involvement in productions at North Central have given her valuable experience.

“I want to work in design because I want to be able to properly collaborate with people in professional theatres. My experience in design will allow me to use a production team’s vocabulary to better communicate with a fellow designer or director on his or her vision for a show.”

To see Perry’s final designs for “Little Shop of Horrors,” four performances will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 25-27 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 28 in the College’s Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave. Tickets are $15/adults and $10/students and seniors; call 630-637-SHOW (7469) or visit Adult supervision is suggested for mature thematic material.

By Lauren Baltas ’16