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Haesemeyer ’21 Gains Valuable Experience In Costume Design

Paul Haesemeyer ’21

Paul Haesemeyer ’21 — As I sit writing this, I have started my third week as a Costume Tech Intern at the Williamstown Theatre Festival at Williams College, amidst the pines of the Berkshire Mountains.  I would not be working here if it was not for the generosity of the Dill Fund.  Thank you for supporting an aspiring costume designer!

First, you (the reader) are probably wondering what a Costume Tech Intern does.  Essentially, I alter and build costumes for WTF’s summer season.  This season, WTF is producing seven shows—five of which are world premieres—, as well as intern and fellowship productions.  Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun is currently in tech and opens later this week.  A Human Being of a Sort by Jonathan Payne, starring André Braugher (Brooklyn 99) runs June 26th – July 7th.   Grand Horizons by Bess Wohl, stars Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family) opens July 17th, Selling Kabul opens July 10th, Tell Me I’m Not Crazy opens July 24th, and Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen starring Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction) runs July 31-August 18th.

For Raisin, I have altered many shorts, pants, and cuffs, ensuring that the costumes fit the actor correctly.  And some are to make the costume fit poorly: one pair of pants I altered was to let out the waistband; the pants fit the actor too well!  Essentially, I am an unpaid stitcher (alters and builds costumes); there are three other stitchers, and one first-hand in the shop.  There are nine costume design interns and two wig-and-makeup interns who help us as needed.  There are twelve interns total; twenty-six people work together at any given time.  They include shop management, assistant designers, a wardrobe supervisor, a craft supervisor, and a wig-and-makeup supervisor.  Working ten-hours a day, six days a week provides a pressure cooker guaranteed to produce close friendships.  Many of us felt like we had known each far longer than the first week.  Living on the same floor with the other interns also strengthens these friendships.

As a technician, I do not have as many design opportunities as the costume design interns do.  Thankfully, during an interview with one of my supervisors, she asked if I was interested in designing at all. I said yes!  So, I will be the second assistant for one of the fellowship productions and will be designing a Directing Intern production that lasts ten minutes.  As an assistant designer, I will learn how to process receipts and returns for the designer.  Sourcing costume items will be an important task as well.

This summer, I will be connecting with Fadia and Ted Williamson ’67.  They are Williamstown Theatre Festival members, and Ted happens to be pledge brothers with my grandfather Paul “Robbie” Robinson ’67.  I look forward to meeting them and learning their stories.

This summer continues the adventure Wabash has provided so far.  Wabash has taken me to Boston, Prague, New York, and now Williamstown.  I am excited to see where Wabash will take me next.