By Teresa Blackman
With 87 pairs of shoes, one could say junior Cecilia Lang is a little interested in clothes — her own clothes, old clothes, new clothes, even the shape of clothes.
This summer, Lang will bring her love of clothes and artistic skill to a summer internship as a stitcher for Shakespeare Dallas. As a ceramics major and a worker in the University of Dallas costume shop, she specializes in bringing the two-dimensional to life, whether in the bows of Cunegonde’s dress or in the folded clay flowers that fill her ceramics studio.
“[A director says,] ‘Here’s a picture, I want to make this picture happen in real life,’ and you have to figure out how to do that, and I think that’s really cool,” Lang said. “I won’t be really doing that in this job, but you have to work your way up.”
In the search for qualified stitchers, the costume shop supervisor for Shakespeare Dallas, Melissa Panzarello, contacted UD drama professor and costume shop manager Susan Cox.
“I got a bunch of resumes and none of them suited me,” Panzarello said. “So I started calling people in and around town that [sic] I trusted their resources and their opinions.”
Cox said she immediately thought of Lang.
“I’m so happy to be able to recommend her any place because she gets better every day, I think, she walks in the shop,” Cox said.
Lang will start on May 12 — spending finals week, and the weeks following, creating costumes for “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged) [revised].” Not only did Cox help Lang get the internship, but Cox has also taught Lang a great deal, from how to properly sew on a button to the flexibility necessary in costuming.
“She always says, ‘Do not be afraid, you can do it,’” Lang said. “She’s always really patient, I think that’s been really good for me in particular… she’s been a really wonderful role model.”
Working in the UD costume shop since freshman year and sewing from a young age — she made her first project, a pin cushion, at age five and later even sewed her own figure skating costumes — has prepared Lang for Shakespeare Dallas’ professional environment.
“She’s really a talented woman, our friend Cecilia,” Cox said. “She’s very skillful, she just has great hands and she’s one of those people you love to have. She’s really interested in learning, she’s not afraid when she doesn’t know how to do something. She knows when to ask questions, and a lot of young people are not like that.”
Lang credits this conscientious craftsmanship to her father, among other influences.
“So, my father … is a craftsman,” Lang said. “There’s been an emphasis on craft my whole life. He makes guitars. But he has this passion for how well things are done that I think definitely has rubbed off on me and I … appreciate and aspire to make things well, as well as beautiful. And I think I’m really interested in the line between craft and art, and I guess ceramics and costuming both fit into that gray area.”
The internship will allow Lang to explore her craft. Panzarello added that it will also open more doors into the small, and very personally connected, world of costuming.
It will also introduce her to another kind of costume shop.
“She’ll get her first taste of a professional shop,” Cox said. “They are professional people working in the shop. Cecilia’s experience has been in this shop, which is a very different animal than a lot of other shops, and she’ll get her first taste of what it’s like to work with some temperament maybe, and she’ll get her first taste of different designers in a single shop … that’s going to be great for her.”
Though the internship will obviously focus on sewing, for Lang, working with fabric affects her work with clay.
“[In patterning,] you take someone’s body and you take flat pieces of fabric and have them fit them specifically,” Lang said. “It’s a different way of thinking; you’re working with something flat and making it sculptural. The sculptural aspect of it is definitely applicable to ceramics. A lot of my pieces … originate from approaching clay just as you would approach fabric and containing fullness with folds and gathers like in a skirt … instead of cutting it away. [But] the whole in the studio is just a piece, obviously in a play the whole is the entire cast. Trying to attain that cohesiveness is something that is really cool.”
Cox said that Lang comes to that collaboration — and to all of life — with her unique skill and creativity.
“She’s the greatest,” Cox said. “We’re really lucky to have her, in the shop for sure, [and] I suspect on campus.”