Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Hailing from Syracuse, N.Y., Meghan Pearson is a lecturer and costume shop supervisor who began teaching at Tufts this semester. The Tufts Daily spoke to her to learn about her background, interest in costume design and theater, and plans at Tufts.
Tufts Daily (TD): Could you tell us about yourself?
Meghan Pearson (MP): My name is Meghan Pearson. I am a full-time lecturer in costume production and technology. I teach Costume Construction, which is a basic costume class that teaches the fundamentals of sewing. On a rotational basis, I could teach other craft-related aspects of theater or the history of costume. I oversee the Tufts Costume Shop [within the Tufts Department of Theatre, Drama, and Performance Studies], and I also teach students how to sew, make patterns for clothing and get ready for theatrical productions. Outside of my Tufts world, I am originally from Syracuse, N.Y. Right before this, I worked at a professional staging company called Syracuse Stage, where I was a draper. This meant that I would take a costume rendering from the designer, make the clothing, do the fitting and get all the costumes ready for shows. Before that, I was teaching at Millikin University. I’m glad that I’ve done both professional and academic work. My job experience is like research for my lectures. I moved to Boston last year and did a half-term. So far, I’ve been loving Tufts.
TD: Why do you enjoy theater and costume making?
MP: My whole family loves theater, so I grew up doing shows. Because I’m also an artist, costume making was an easy way to combine my talents. I know nothing else since I’ve always done it.
TD: How did your passion for theater extend into being a professor at a university?
MP: I started off in shows as a child and became interested in the hands-on aspects of them — the scenery, lighting and costume. Sharing my knowledge was the next step because theater is all about learning through collaborating. I went to grad school for costume technology, where I entered in the academic world. The moment that I see a student interested in theater or costume design, a lightbulb goes on, because that’s what I love. I like theater, but what’s also essential is teaching these skills to the new generation.
TD: What do you hope to accomplish at Tufts?
MP: I would love to help expand the connection between the theater and the technology department. Doing more crossovers with the Engineering [School] and getting that integrated into the curriculum would be so cool. Imagine if we could print fabric or 3D-print a bracelet — there are so many opportunities here.
TD: What do you like most about Tufts so far?
MP: The campus is so beautiful. Also, they really want you to get the full experience at Tufts, and there are so many resources. As a new faculty member, I always hear “Come to this!” or “You’re invited to this lunch.” At other places I’ve worked at, it’s usually been more like “Here you go, good luck.” In the theater department, a lot of our students are dual majors — especially in the STEM department — so it’s nice to get that cross-contamination and hear about what’s happening in those worlds.
TD: You mentioned that many Tufts theater students also pursue other academic interests. Do you have any advice for students that don’t want to major or minor in theater but still are interested in getting involved?
MP: Do anything you can. We have a lot of student-run organizations where you don’t even take a class to join. You meet every couple of weeks and put on skits or do improv. You can also get more involved and try out for a show, or there are lots of volunteering opportunities. Even a minor in theater isn’t that many credits. Every person in my costume shop is either double majoring in theater and something else or majoring in something else entirely. It’s a place for a variety of interests to commingle. Down the line, a student could take their engineering and theater interests and make some crazy new fabric. Even just going to see the shows is supportive to us and allows us to expand our programming. You should also check out the costume shop. It’s all so fun!
TD: Where can I find out about shows and other projects going on in the theater department?
MP: Our website page of the Tufts Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies has a list of what we’re doing. We have three shows a semester, some of which are bigger and some that are more black-box style. There’s also one dance concert a semester.
TD: Do you have any fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share?
MP: I always have the same three. One — I love Disney; two — I play the bagpipes; three — I play the didgeridoo.