The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in theatre, costume design & production at Boston University College of Fine Arts aims to develop a complete theatre artist by fostering a passion for theatre, storytelling, design, and the collaborative process. Costume design & production majors create and interpret visual, conceptual, and emotional responses which are then communicated through clothing.
BU’s BFA in costume production program prepares talented and committed students for careers in the professional world of theatre. The program curriculum emphasizes the development of a student as a theatre artist, focusing on collaboration, imagination, intellect, communication skills, and oral critique, as well as preparation for a professional career.
During each year of the BFA program, courses in design, production, graphic skills, management, and dramatic literature follow a carefully integrated sequence of class exercises and production opportunities. Students who pursue the BFA–Theatre degree in costume production discover who they are, what they do well, and what they are capable of doing. They learn to be collaborative theatre artists who work productively under the stresses of the theatrical profession and, most importantly, they learn to integrate design, production, and management skills with their own personal sensibility.
Program of Study
Before officially declaring a BFA Design & Production major, each first year student entering the BU School of Theatre is admitted into the First Year Design & Production Core. The First Year Core experience establishes a base vocabulary that serves as the foundation for a student’s progression into their chosen BFA degree program. In addition, the First Year Core is designed to provide an appropriate context for faculty evaluation of each student’s strengths, interests, and potential for success in the upper years of training. At the end of the first year, each student will declare a BFA major; these decisions are reviewed and mentored by members of the School of Theatre faculty before a student is officially enrolled in their BFA program.
Training includes a rigorous curriculum, production opportunities, and collaboration with theatre professionals. Costume production majors are regularly mentored by working professional faculty and advisors through their weekly seminars, hands-on, in-process production advising, and end-of-semester conferences. The average class size ranges from 8 to 10 students.
Students will gain skills in draping, flat patterning, tailoring, dye and millinery, and management skills. Examples of courses include costume construction, figure drawing, history of costume, intro to textiles, and fabric dyeing, among others.Upon completing the program, students will demonstrate an ability to enrich creative storytelling through costume production, taking artistic risks, plus have the ability to engage with diverse communities as a theatre artist.
Costume design students also participate in SOT’s annual Theatre Showcase that takes place in Boston or New York City. The event serves as a celebration of the graduating class and the group’s formal introduction to the professional theatre community.
Situated within a large, top-tier research institution, students pursue coursework in the University Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the undergraduate student experience. This provides students with the chance to dive into other topics, from other colleges and schools, to enhance their studies.
Students receive one-on-one mentoring by professional faculty members, whose work has been seen throughout the world, in regional theaters, on Broadway, and internationally. Costume design & production students have access to top theatres throughout the country for internships, summer stock, design, and production opportunities. They also see their work in BU School of Theatre productions and have the option to dive into costume production work in off-campus theatre productions.
Networking through the School of Theatre’s onSET program, where guest artists come to BU and develop shows in our multitude of theatre spaces, giving our students more opportunities to work on a variety of shows. Personal design studio spaces are available for students, with inspirational sights nearby – museums and historical sites in Boston that can provide inspiration for costume research.
Study Abroad programs are also available at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), Academia Dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy, or other programs through BU Study Abroad.
Costume design & production majors get to work in BU’s Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre and the College of Fine Arts (CFA) Production Center, a state-of-the-art multi-functional studio theatre and production facility with a full complement of support spaces and design labs for teaching and producing theatre.
The CFA Production Center, a state-of-the-art center unifying the performance, design, and production programs at BU School of Theatre, offers a costume shop where costume design & production students take courses and work on their projects. There’s also a separate craft and dye space, plus a costume stock room filled with more than 10,000 costume pieces.
Nancy Lynn Leary
Associate Professor, Costume Design
Susan E. Mickey
Director of School of Theatre; Professor, Costume Design
Costume Shop Manager; Lecturer, Costume Production
Lecturer, Costume Crafts
Meet BU’s Costume Design & Production Program Head
BU’s costume design & production program head happens to be an award-winning costume designer whose visionary work for opera and theater spans several decades (and has graced stages across the United States and Europe). Nancy Leary, assistant professor of costume design and production at BU, has worked on established operas and newly conceived productions, including premieres for Boston Lyric Opera, Juilliard Opera, and others.
In CFA’s Faculty Feature series, Leary talks with CFA about BU’s costume production programs and the skills students bring to the program and get from the program.
“When Costume Design & Production students graduate they should be able to look at any type of rendering, technical or abstract, and be able to dissect, understand and apply the skills and knowledge they have learned in order to create a three-dimensional version of the painting or sketch. This application includes understanding primary research, applying flat patterning and draping skills, and most importantly using an individual artistic perspective.”
- Nancy Leary: Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) award for costume design of Into the Woods at New Repertory Theatre, an Elliot Norton for contribution to the production of Permanent Collection, and a nomination for best production of Twelve Night with Commonwealth Shakespeare Company
- Denise Wallace-Spriggs: Resident Crafts/Artisan Dyer for the Huntington Theatre Company, which won a Tony award for Best Regional Theatre
Next Steps for Applicants
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