Third-year theater student Christian Holguin looks at possible designs for the upcoming show “Stop Kiss.”

Dressing the theater: A look behind the scenes

By Isac Kim and Sabrina Zelaya

Along with every great production is a great supporting team. 

This is especially true of the theater department performances and the costume department that designs costumes for them.

The costume department is responsible for everything actors wear on stage. 

Vannessa Poveda is the costume shop supervisor. 

In her third year, she is in charge of the budget for costumes, fitting alterations for all the shows and making sure students and faculty members are on schedule.  

She also guides students who design costumes throughout the designing process. 

Designing costumes for a production consists of meeting with the director of a show to figure out what direction they would like to take outfits. 

There is no specific head designer for all plays, so they work in design teams. 

Third-year theater student Christian Holguin works in the costume department.

They go over the script to analyze the characters in shows, using their characteristics to determine what they would wear.

“Design teams include people working in hair and makeup, lighting, set design, sound design, prop design, stage managers and the director,” Poveda said.

New costumes are made in the costume lab, along with alterations to costumes from previous productions. 

The theater department offers classes in costume design, costume history and costume craft, so students can learn how to put together quality costumes to enhance the characters on stage.

The first play of the semester is “Stop Kiss,” which premieres Feb. 21 and runs on Feb. 22, 23, 28, and March 1 and 2 at 8 p.m., as well as March 3 at 2 p.m. 

Mauricio Gutierrez, a fifth-year theater student, is the head designer for the production. 

Gutierrez started working on costumes for the show in December and worked throughout winter break, drawing up sketches and doing intensive research. 

As of now, fittings for all the actors in the show are done, but some pieces need alterations.

“Well, the play goes back and forth from the present to the past. The author split the past and present and layered them,” Gutierrez said. “So, I had to make the costumes more versatile for different situations. It was very difficult to design this show because of the back and forth shifts. ‘Stop Kiss’ is probably one of the most demanding shows, design-wise, for set, sound and costume designers.”

For the production, Gutierrez received guidance from Poveda and Professor Paulo Lima, a faculty member, who taught him about the major fashions through different eras. 

Lima also helped Gutierrez create shadows, textures and lines in his costumes, advising him to read through the play twice: once for fun and a second time to start breaking down the five W’s and the how.

Christian Holguin, a third-year theater student, said he is excited to see the costumes Gutierrez designed in “Stop Kiss” and future costume designs in future plays.

“I’m excited to see the student designers grow and see the costumes get better,” Holguin said.

Ticket prices for “Stop Kiss” are $15 for general admission, $12 for CPP alumni and $10 for CPP faculty, staff, students and seniors.

More information on the costume and theater department or “Stop Kiss” can be found on the theater department’s website:

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