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Julian Wiles, Founder and Producing Artistic Director
Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director

October 8, 2013

Meet Guest Costume Designer Janine Marie McCabe

Filed under: Back Stage Blog — julianw @ 2:10 pm

Q: Where did you grow up? Were there any activities you did as a child that led to your passion for theatre and the arts?
A: I grew up in New Jersey around the Seaside Heights area. No one in my family was involved in theatre but my mom put me in dance classes when I was really young and I continued dancing into my college years. I also remember having a little kid sewing machine when I was growing up. My high school had a sewing class that I was able to take a few times as well and we made full garments and had fashion shows with what we made. I loved sewing, I loved dance and I loved drawing (though I was bad at it at the time), but I never put all these things together as something I could pursue in my life. I actually started college as an engineering major and it wasn’t until my sophomore year when I took an Introduction to Theatre class that I learned there were people who made a career out of being a Costume Designer for theatre.

Q: Where did you study theatre and design?
A: . I received my BA from the College of Charleston and then I went on to study costume design at the University of Virginia where I received my MFA. I also did an internship in NYC with tony-award winning costume designer Martin Pakledinaz while I was in school at UVa.

Q: Where have you worked previously? What are some of your favorite productions you’ve worked on and the designs that you created for those productions?
A: After graduate school I moved to NYC and worked in theatre there for about 5 years. As an assistant costume designer to Martin Pakledinaz I was able to work on many Broadway productions. He also designed for Opera and Dance and so I was fortunate to gain a variety of experiences with different theatres and companies across the country. During my time in NYC I designed for smaller theatre companies there and Fringe NYC as well. The last few years I have been designing for Flat Rock Playhouse in North Carolina where I am able to connect with NY directors, actors and choreographers on a variety of productions, mostly musicals. My favorite productions so far would have to be Zelda (originally called Waiting for the Moon) and For the Glory. For Zelda, I have been involved with this musical since its first full production in 2005 and it has been exciting to be part of bringing a new work to life. Zelda is about Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald so the research is fun, interesting and heart breaking and the show brings you from 1918 to 1948 so it has many wonderful challenges!

Q: How did you prepare for costume designing Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure? Were there any challenges or things you faced in creating those designs or anything that you’re most excited about for audiences to see?
A: For this production I spent a lot of time looking at research and original drawings and stories. I also spent some time watching the BBC series. I always stay away from other productions of what I am designing so that I don’t get stuck in their communication of the story but with the contemporary series version I felt it gave a lot of insight into the energy and pace that Julian was hoping to create with this production and didn’t allow me to get stuck in their clothing choices. One of the challenges was wanting to have a period feel to the production that was not typical to what the audience would expect from the late 19th century. The color and details became important elements in giving this production a unique look while trying to find the best way to communicate each of these interesting characters.

Q: Who or what typically inspires your work? Are there any costume designers who inspire you?
A: Research and collaboration inspire every step of my work as a costume designer. Talking through ideas with the director, other design and production team members as well as with the actors is so exciting. I love the journey of discovery in how the research will lead to the designs, how something a lighting or set designer says might affect the design of a costume piece, and the whole process of sharing research with each other throughout the process feeds each aspect of the production.

The designer that has inspired me the most would be Martin Pakledinaz. He is not the only designer I have worked with but he is the one I know the best. I learned so much from his dedication and commitment to the process and to finding the best way to communicate ideas. His attention to the research and detail will always inspire my work.

Q: Please share with us your thoughts on Guest Designing for Charleston Stage.
A: I am thrilled to be developing this new relationship with Charleston Stage. It is always challenging for both a designer and a shop to learn how the other likes to work but I really appreciate the attention that everyone here is paying to the designs and to developing the story in the best way possible.




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