June 10, 2023

Marilyn Wojdak: Costume Made

With production deadlines creeping closer, layers and layers of fabric spread like icing on a cake across the Klein Theatre costume shop. Patterns and sketches are displayed for technician and supervisor Marilyn Wojdak to inspect. Compartmentalized in the artistic space are industrial sewing machines, sergers and steam irons – a concoction of crafty apparatuses. It’s where students and professionals alike imagine a whole other world of clothes into reality. Wojdak has spent a decade guiding UMW students through the production of inventive costume construction. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, which runs through Sunday, is no exception.

Marilyn Wojdak works on a dress in the current Klein Theatre production of "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike."

Marilyn Wojdak works on a dress for the current Klein Theatre production of “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” Photo by Alex Sakes.

Q: What’s a typical day like in the costume shop?

A: I design patterns, oversee student construction of mock-ups, do fittings, alter patterns, cut fabrics, assemble garments and make sure the finished product is tailored to each individual actor. My primary job is to educate our students in the construction of the clothing.

Q: What are some memorable costumes you’ve worked on?

A: One of the most beautiful was a ball gown from Lady Windermere’s Fan. It was black and white with embroidery down the front and so many hours went into its construction. Another favorite was when we did Seascape; the students had fun making the lizard suits – lycra body suits with iridescent fabric modifications to bring out the scaly nature of their “skin”.

Q: What’s it like working with students?

A: I work with students through every step of the process. Sometimes that involves teaching them a new technique like putting in a zipper or how to properly hem a garment, but often it just involves refining their skills. It’s most rewarding when a student tries something new  thinking they simply can’t do a good job, but in the end, they succeed remarkably.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

A: I have often heard actors say that they can fully inhabit and portray a character much more when they finally wear the clothing onstage. It’s always wonderful to see that happen!