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Dressing for Success

ATP project leads to a promising new gig
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News Feature

If you’re looking this summer for Karly Foster, ’20, you won’t catch her at the beach. Instead, you’ll find her hard at work behind a sewing machine.

The rising costume designer landed a summer job at the prestigious Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, where she will sew and create costumes for some of the organization’s upcoming productions.

Remarkably, Karly’s passion for sewing is a recent development. Last year the psychology and theater major applied for and was accepted into BSU’s Adrian Tinsley Program (ATP) for Undergraduate Research and Creative Work Summer Grant program.

ATP provides grants for undergraduate research opportunities. The money covers supplies and other expenses, giving students the opportunity to conduct in-depth research or creative work for ten weeks in the summer. Students are also mentored one-on-one by a professor.

For Karly, her ATP program focus is to learn about and enhance her skills in costume design. Under the guidance of theater Professor Miranda Giurleo, she is starting to evolve into a talented designer.

“At first, I was only able to sew a straight line on a sewing machine,” Karly said. “Every time we met she would show me what do to… If I got stuck, she would show me different techniques, how to do things more carefully.”

Her efforts are playing off, and she is slowly making a name for herself in the theater world. Last summer she was employed as an assistant costume designer for Boston’s Company One production of Leftovers.

This past March, Giurleo and Karly traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, for the United States Institute for Theatre Technology conference, where Karly presented a poster related to her ATP summer grant project on Victorian women’s walking dresses.


Karly Foster dress.jpg

To create the dresses, Karly researched the Victorian period, focusing on the many different layers and fabric weight that women wore during that era.

“I always loved the way dresses looked from that time period,” Karly said. “It’s just so different from how we dress today.”

Karly made the most of her recent conference participation, networking with many in the industry, which is how she landed the summer gig with the Barrington Stage Company.

With each experience, she continues to build a solid resume toward what she hopes becomes a steady career as a costume designer.

“I’ve loved theater my whole life but never considered doing it for a job,” she said. 

Karly encourages BSU students to consider applying for an ATP grant to open doors to new possibilities.

“It’s important for students to know that just because your idea is not a traditional research project, you can still expand on it… I want people to know that you can make a living doing something you love,” she said.

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