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New storage space opens theatre costume shop for learning

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Aug 05, 2021

Costume storage was an issue College of Lake County (CLC)’s theatre department had been dealing with for years, but taking over two new rooms has allowed the department’s costume shop to become the teaching space it was meant to be.

The costume shop is a space where costumes are created for performances, and being one of the technical theatre program’s classrooms, it’s also a place for students to learn the skill. The teaching process wasn’t easy though, according to Sally Gill, adjunct faculty and costume designer, because the room was overrun with storage.

Costume shop before cleaning“You couldn’t really move,” Gill said. “If I was teaching a student, I couldn’t be next to them.”

Photo: Costume shop before organizing

This summer, the costumes are being moved into two former classrooms upstairs from the department.

The space that was opened up not only allows room to move around but is now filled up with more and better equipment for the students to use. There are now 10 sewing machines instead of four, a new serger and new, more comfortable chairs.

Costume shop after cleaning“We weren't giving the students the best experience because we didn’t have the best equipment available for them,” said Craig Rich, CLC Theatre Department chair. “Theatre is really hands on, and we need the space and materials for students to do the work.”

Photo: Costume shop after organizing

There was little organization of the costumes before, with Rich saying there were costumes “from the floor to the ceiling.” In the new storage rooms, organization has become a priority, and the department built its own clothing racks to fit the space it needed.

The organization also helps with a critical part of costume design: knowledge of clothing history. Each rack is designated for different historical eras not only to ease finding them, but also to improve the ability to teach.

“To design costumes, you need an expert level of clothing history,” Gill said. “Having them stored by historical time period helps them not only find the correct costumes but visualize what the clothing from that time period looked like.”

While cleaning, numerous pieces of clothing were found that hadn’t been seen in years, having fallen behind shelving. The department partnered with the sustainability office to recycle and donate anything found in good enough condition.

Many students don’t know about the big clean up, so Rich is hoping it’s a nice welcome back surprise for the returning students.

“We’re hoping the students coming back in the fall will be just as excited as we are,” he said.

About College of Lake County

College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.