Ed.’s note: March is National Women’s History Month. Each week this month, The Echo will highlight a local woman who is making strides in her field of work or study.
If all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women are merely players, then assistant theater professor and costume designer Shauna Meador is on her way to the top of the theatrical fashion world.
Meador was selected to design costumes for Noodle Doodle Box, a whimsical play that is part of equity company TheatreSquared’s 2007-2008 season.
TheatreSquared is one of three equity theater companies in Arkansas and is associated with the Actor’s Equity Association, which strives to present the highest quality of theatrical productions. The show runs through March 9 at Nadine Baum Studios in Fayetteville.
Meador, the resident costume designer for the UCA Theatre Department, didn’t start off behind the sewing machine – although she has been sewing since she was young. At first, she wanted to become an actress.
“Originally, I wanted to be an actor, but I soon learned that the constantly moving lifestyle would not work well with my desire to root in one location,” Meador said. “I also had no interest in living someplace like New York or Los Angeles. I got into costuming because I could sew really well – I’ve been sewing since I was about 9 years old. In high school I made most of my own clothes, including outfits for homecoming and prom.”
Meador got her bachelor’s in theater from UCA and went on to earn a master’s of fine art in costume design from Purdue University.
She works closely with UCA theater students to create and design costumes for department productions while teaching fun wardrobe-related classes such as costume design, costume history and stage makeup, where she uses her expert knowledge of her field and her sharp sense of humor to inspire interest in the creative material.
Meador said that Noodle Doodle Box, which was adapted from the German-language version, is geared toward a younger audience.
“The two main characters, [sister and brother]Zacharias and Pepper, squabble over sharing their respective boxes with one another,” Meador said. “Because of their inability to work together, they lose both of their boxes. In the end they learn to share and work together.”
The moral of the story – along with the brutal frankness of a child audience – were among the main reasons Meador decided to get involved with the production.
“I really like theater for young audiences. The reaction that children have to a play is very honest,” Meador said. “If they don’t like it, they won’t sit quietly and clap politely. I like the message of the play and how the two friends come together in the end.”
Meador took many different production aspects into consideration while designing costumes for the colorful sister and brother characters.
“The first major consideration was for movement. The actors did a lot of movement and the costumes had to accommodate that movement,” Meador said.
“The second major consideration was for the audience. Since the piece was for younger children, I wanted the costumes to be visually stimulating, so I chose a very saturated color palette of fuschia, red, blue, purple, orange and green.
“[Director] Kassie Misiewicz came up with the initial idea that the two main characters were sister and brother. In the original production, the characters were more like circus clowns. This style didn’t seem like it would connect to the young audience as well as the sister and brother [would].”
Working on a professional equity show was different than working on a UCA production, Meador said.
“[Professional actors] are much more verbal about what their characters need and know how to work a costume, rather than just wear it,” Meador said. “[The performance space] was also much more intimate than Bridges/Larson or Reynolds Performance Hall. Therefore, the set had to be much more compact.
“The scenic and lighting designer Shawn Irish is from New York, and his style of designing is very abstract and nonrealistic. It worked well for this piece, and our collaboration created a visually interesting production.”
The set for Noodle Doodle Box was inspired by a painting by Belgian painter Rene Magritte.
Meador said that the creation process is her favorite part about the craft.
“I love shopping for fabric and the process of a piece of fabric becoming a garment,” Meador said.
“In fact, my favorite part of designing is picking out fabric for the characters. I enjoy the challenge of making individual pieces of fabric work together for the character and work with other fabrics for other characters.”