Spotlight: Hannah Fiedler
February 2nd, 2016
Hannah Fiedler has only been cleaning for Two Bettys for two months, but she has a long history designing costumes for theatrical productions. Read our exchange below to learn more about what she’s up to in the local theatre scene.
First off, can you talk a bit about your background and how you get started in costume design?
I grew up in a creative family which helped pave the way for me pursuing a career in art. I spent a lot of time as a kid drawing and painting. It was not until we moved from Minneapolis to New Richmond, WI that I had my first real taste of theatre. I was a very shy child and because I was homeschooled, my mother made me chose between two things: playing in a sport or acting in a play. I chose acting. After my first audition at the Old Gem Theatre in New Richmond, I had been bitten by the theatre bug! I performed in many shows at the Old Gem and at my high school and college, the University of Wisconsin Superior. I worked in a small costume shop at college and at that point I started thinking more seriously about working in the world of costume design.
Did you study theater or textile design while in college? If not, how did your educational focus inform your work in costume design (if at all)?
I was a theatre major and art minor in college. My main focuses were acting, costume design/fabrication and set painting. The theatre program at my college was small, so I didn’t have the option to specialize in just costume design. However, I believe that having an understanding of everyone’s role in the production helps me do more specialized design to the best of my ability.
How did you seek out further experiences in this field? Did you work exclusively through a specific theater company or as a freelance designer?
After college I stayed in the Superior/Duluth area and picked up work in freelance costume design for a few months. Then I started getting some opportunities outside of the area. I worked on the feature film “Strange Nature,” which is an eco-horror film shot in Minnesota and was a craft artisan at a children’s theater. In addition, I got the opportunity to intern in costume crafts and wardrobe at the Guthrie and started getting over hire work as a stitcher and wardrobe technician. The internship helped to evolve my skills and expand my work in theatres around the area. I could never express how grateful I am to both the costume and wardrobe departments for giving me the opportunity to gain real life theatrical experience!
Do you find that you work better within the restraints of designing clothes for a production rather than the realm of fashion design which implies more creative freedom? How much agency do you have within your role or does it just depend on each production’s needs?
I work more in costume design and I’ve really not delved into fashion as much, but I would not say costume design has any less creative freedom then fashion. Each thing you work on starts with a concept and you go from there to create a cohesive vision. In each instance, whether it be fashion or costume, you could be working with a team of people or on your own.
When it comes to theatre and the creation of costumes, I love the team effort! Everyone brings their talents to create certain aspect of the show (costume, lighting, sound, set) to serve what the director has given us as his or her vision. That vision could be as small as a few key words or pictures, anything the director feels will help get their point across, and the team takes things from there.
Lastly, what are you currently working on? Any exciting productions coming up in 2016? Any plans to expand your horizons?
I am currently costume designing the show Romeo and Juliet for a company in Duluth, MN called Wise Fool Shakespeare. It opens on March 11 and runs through March 20. I am also doing some costume crafts work in Minneapolis for Theater Latté Da’s production of Gypsy. For 2016, I am excited to continue working in the Minneapolis theatre scene. I look forward to continuing to work in costume, but I’d like to start dipping my feet into more set painting and acting as well.