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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Drama

Kentuckians in Theater

Costume Designer Corey Martin
Oklahoma City, OK

Who Corey Martin has designed many productions for Oklahoma professional and community theaters and serves as resident costume designer for Jenny Wiley Theatre, a summer outdoor professional theater in Prestonsburg, KY. Martin also has been an actor and has worked as an assistant designer, shop foreman, and wig and makeup designer. He attended Oklahoma City University, the University of Central Oklahoma, and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. Martin’s favorite design projects include the play Les Liaisons Dangereuses, starring Alley Mills of TV’s The Wonder Years, and the play The Lion in Winter, starring Maureen McGovern. He especially loves working with young performers and helping to make their dreams a reality.

What “Costumes determine the outward appearance of who the characters in a play really are. You see people on stage before you hear them speak. If you see Dolly Levi [in the musical Hello, Dolly!] in a red dress, you know that’s Dolly.”

When “I work anywhere from eight to 18 hours a day. Last year, when I was doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, I didn’t go to bed for three days. I basically built the entire show by myself in 12 days. That’s the hardest show I’ve ever put together that quickly.”

Where “I primarily work out of my home, but several theaters that I work for have costume shops that I do work in.”

How “The first job as a costume designer is to read the script to determine when the show takes place in history, what class of people the characters are, and so on. From there, I do my sketches. Then you start shopping for fabric and start building the costumes. I work with the director, the actors—and with producers a lot, because they tell me how much money I can spend on fabric or actual clothing. I’ve worked with everything from a $300 budget to a $22,000 budget. You have to be really creative to find the things you need. And you have to be really organized. I keep files of all the patterns I use, and I have my own collection of clothing that can be used as costumes. I did needlework by hand when I was 6 and started sewing with a machine when I was 10. It helps if you can draw and sew.”

Why “I like being able to express myself and be creative. I get to make my own schedule and do what I like to do. The biggest challenge for me is time. A lot of times, I don’t have enough. I’m a perfectionist, and it can take hours and hours and hours to make one garment. I put in 80 hours of labor making a dress for Alley Mills.”

Getting There “First you have to learn to sew. Then learn about fabrics, historical period costumes, and so on. I started out in home ec classes in high school and was a state FHA officer.”


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