The UMKC Theatre department’s costume design program is no game of dress up.
For the second year in a row, the Hollywood Reporter included it in its list of Top 10 Costume Design Schools.
The program only accepts two to four design students a year. Third-year student Stella Tag was once one of these aspirants.
“All of the candidates have to come to visit the school before they accept the offer,” said Tag on meeting the program’s professors. “But when I came here, I just clicked with them.”
Tag credits her professors Lindsay Davis and Sarah Oliver for her decision to attend UMKC. Her fellow student, Katherine Davis, was drawn to the program for the same reason.
“Lindsey and Sarah are just strong forces,” said Davis. “They’ve got really strong skills in different areas, so the balance they create is something I haven’t found in a lot of other places.”
This balance is between both the design and the technological aspects of the degree.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, what makes UMKC’s program unique is its belief that these two things cannot be separated when learning costume design.
“Most programs only focus on the design program, or they only focus on the technical program,” said Tag. “But in this program, we do all of it.”
Students in this program really do it all.
They start their days off at 8 a.m. and don’t end until 5 p.m. During that time, students work on everything from figure drawing to running the costume shop.
In addition to their studies, they are required to design at least one show a semester.
Davis said they are rarely in the classroom, and that’s a good thing.
“Everything has really just balanced out to this great workplace that has taught us a lot of lessons about dealing with situations in costume design, handling different people, and working with different theatres in the community so we are getting real work experience,” said Davis.
The Hollywood Reporter list includes schools that are better known than UMKC, such as Yale, UCLA and Wimbledon, or have a bigger reputation within the field.
Despite this, Tag doesn’t regret her decision to come to Kansas City.
“I feel like I have never looked back over my shoulder since I’ve gotten here,” Tag said. “I’ve never thought, ‘Oh, I should have gone there instead.’”