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Designing for the Stage: Karin Kopischke ’80

Did you happen to venture to the conservatory at all this year to see one of the many productions? Well if you did, you can thank Karin Kopischke for the beautiful costumes. Karin is a Lawrence alum and has her time spent as a student here to thank for steering her in the right direction. She said “Being a costume designer, you have to have a basic knowledge of theatre, literature, world history, cultural history, psychology, art, fashion & textiles. Lawrence gave me a wonderful Liberal Arts base from which to work. It also instilled a love of learning, and a sense that anything was possible.” She graduated from Lawrence with a B.M in Piano Performance, a B.A in Studio Art and a Theatre minor. Before becoming a costume designer Karin worked as an art curator and a musical director.

What exactly does she do you ask? Well she is a free-lance costume designer and her job has taken her all over the United States, Canada and even Great Britain. Before being hired to be the head of the costume design program at Lawrence this past fall, Karin taught design at DePaul University, Northwestern University and Carroll University. Many of the designs she creates for new plays and operas have published, meaning she is the Costume Designer of record in those published scripts and scores. One of her most recent productions, the opera “Silent Night” at the Minnesota Opera Company, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize! “My proudest accomplishment is actually making a living doing what I love – designing costumes!”

Some fun highlights of Karin’s career thus far include, “[working] on an adaptation of “Slaughter House Five” and had dinner with Kurt Vonnegut and discussed his novel with him. I’ve also gotten the opportunity to meet Paul Simon when working with Ladysmith Black Mambazo on a new play based on a South African folk tale, and collaborated with Harry Connick Jr. on a new Children’s Musical. I’ve worked with many Tony Award winning directors at most of the Tony Award winning Regional Theaters across the Country” she recounts.

This summer she will be designing the costumes for “Chicago” and “Lombardi” at the Peninsula Players Theater in Door County in addition to costuming the Skylight Opera Theatre’s production of “Porgy and Bess” next spring. Karin will also be teaching three classes next school year, Costume Craft and Technology, Stage Make-up and Introduction to Costume Design.

Be sure to make a point of viewing one of her productions this year!

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