From Design Through Production, Technical Theatre Students Gain Hands-On Experience Training with Costume Studio Manager Michael Montgomery
"Students have the opportunity to be a part of the creative process from design through actual production; to see and learn by doing, and to see their work realized, all while training in a state-of-the art facility."
How many years have you worked at Point Park University?
I have been on staff with the Pittsburgh Playhouse for 15 years. I first came on board as a freelance costume designer in 2005.
Tell us about your professional background/experiences and what brought you to Point Park’s Pittsburgh Playhouse.
Working in the theater was always my ambition. I worked both as a costume technician and a freelance costume designer for theater and opera companies from Boston to Florida, finally landing in Philadelphia on staff in the costume studio of the theatre department at Temple University.
I relocated to Pittsburgh in 1999 and was very lucky to be befriended and mentored by Joan Markert, who for many years managed the studio and developed much of the current costume course of study here at Point Park. Joan eventually welcomed me to the staff and together, we worked closely transitioning to our incredible studio at the new Pittsburgh Playhouse.
What are your key responsibilities as the costume studio manager?
Day-to-day operations of the studio, including scheduling, budgeting and coordinating all costume, hair and makeup needs for all productions. I also have the pleasure of leading a team of three fantastically talented colleagues and numerous students on all our productions. Interaction with students in the form of mentoring, student production assignments and teaching many of the design and technical courses in costuming are the responsibilities I most enjoy.
What excites you most in this role as you train the next generation of artists?
Working with young artists gives me the chance to see my life’s work from new and ever-changing viewpoints. It is gratifying to see the new ways young minds transform the art form, working with them as their contemporary views bring fresh eyes to timeless stories. The sharing of ideas enables me to learn as much from them as they do from me.
What hands-on opportunities/training do students have at their fingertips at the Playhouse?
Students have the opportunity to be a part of the creative process from design through actual production; to see and learn by doing, and to see their work realized, all while training in a state-of-the art facility.
What makes our Conservatory programs and training distinctive from other colleges/universities?
Students in our Conservatory of Performing Arts have an unrivaled opportunity to learn and perfect their craft according to a true Conservatory model — they learn by working alongside accomplished, working artists/professionals who impart real-world learning in real time. They also receive many hours of one-on-one mentoring, which is hard to come by in many other institutions.
What advice do you have for students considering Point Park?
Following your passion is never easy. Be prepared to work hard and learn from hands-on experience in an active work environment. Your failures will often lead to greater success.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The unique career choice of collaborative storytelling (that is the theatre) requires a mind that is open to learning, and which respects the creativity of others as much as its own. That is how great stories are told.
More About: acting, theatre arts, Conservatory of Performing Arts, musical theatre, theatre, technical design/management, Pittsburgh Playhouse