Richelle Devereaux-Murray is one of four full-time staff members who work in the Department of Performing Arts’ costume shop. As costume shop supervisor, she is responsible for the physical output of the costume shop. Every academic year, the department produces nine shows in five different theaters through its producing arm, Emerson Stage. This means that the shop is producing costumes for three to four productions at any given time. She and her coworkers costume more than 100 hundred student actors per season, which includes outfits, headwear, shoes, and accessories. Besides building costumes from scratch and using the Emerson stock, the shop staff buy and alter costumes, borrow them from other schools, and rent them from rental houses. Sometimes a part of a costume does double duty as a prop, so she and her coworkers work closely with properties staff as well.
Her responsibilities include building costumes and accessories, doing dye work, doing fittings with student actors, and fixing broken equipment. She also teaches the 20+ student workers in the shop who are hired as stitchers, crafters, and stock attendants. On a daily basis, she supervises up to 10 students in the shop, reviewing their work, fixing mistakes, and showing them new techniques.
She also teaches in the classroom: two sections of Stagecraft: Costume Construction per semester. In her class, students learn how to use a sewing machine, are trained in hand-sewing techniques and fundamentals of putting together a pattern, and complete projects that build on the skills that they learn.
After graduating with a BFA in Design/Technology from Emerson in 2000, Devereaux-Murray freelanced and dressed, stitched, dyed, and designed costumes for Boston-area theater and film productions. She then temped at the Emerson costume shop for more than a year before being hired permanently in 2004. Since she is a 10-month employee at Emerson, she continues to work for Boston-area productions during the summer.
For her, the best part of working at Emerson is seeing the students’ reactions when they finish a costume they made or a show they designed. She said, “Watching them as they look at what their talent, passion, and hard work have accomplished makes me so proud of them.” She added, “I also love the staff across the College whom I have come to know during our union organization and contract negotiations. The College has some spectacular folks who are all here for the same reason: for the students.”
Devereaux-Murray is a Massachusetts native. She grew up in Somerville and was a commuter student during college, except when she participated in the LA program for a semester. She still lives in Somerville with her husband (a Texas transplant) and their daughter, who is due to arrive in November!
In her free time, she plays trivia with a group of friends every Monday night. And her love of crafting carries over to her personal life—she sews, does needlepoint, and is learning how to knit.
(Note: The Biannual Costume Shop Stock Sale is October 6, 12:00–4:00 pm, in the Multipurpose Room. Cash only.)
Nancy Howell (Marketing)