Campus Spotlight: Uncovering Shakespeare with Olivia Rutigliano

Whether you have seen her costumes in Penn theater productions, presenting research projectsfor the Penn Humanities Forum, or heard her belting Disney or Broadway show tunes, Olivia Rutigliano holds an aura that is surely unforgettable.
Hailing from Long Island, New York, Olivia is currently a senior in the College majoring in Cinema Studies and one of the few students submatriculating into the English master’s program. 
Unlike a lot of freshmen who were unaware of what they wanted to study, Olivia knew early on which subjects she would pursue in her collegiate career. Uncertainty remained, however, in what her extracurricular pursuits would be.
After seeing a production of Romeo and Juliet by Penn's Underground Shakespeare Company (USC) -- a theater group who's mission is to produce plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries -- in her spring semester of freshman year, Olivia was immediately intrigued.
Upon learning that the company didn’t have a costume designer, Olivia went to the troupe with a portfolio of past costumes in hand and created the costume department.
As Olivia’s time with USC progressed, her interest grew in how different Shakespearean characters could be represented in different aesthetics depending on time period and interpretation. To help further satisfy her interest and further develop her artistry, she took classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York on weekends, learning to sew in a professional setting. 
What stemmed from Olivia’s commutes back and forth from Penn to New York was a Shakespearean-based costume thesis, for which she was awarded fellowships from the College House Research Fellows Program and the Penn Humanities Forum, among several others. One fellowship required the design of six different dresses for six different Shakespearean heroines from six different periods of history. Acquired fellowships and grants permitted Olivia’s travel for study of costumes in Oxford.
Since joining USC, Olivia has worked on over ten productions in both collegiate and non-collegiate settings. In addition to designing costumes for USC, Olivia has exerted her talents beyond the Penn community by designing costumes for Philadelphia Fringe and Live Arts Festival and New York International Fringe Festival productions of Antony and Cleopatra: Infinite Lives by Michael DeAngelis and Pete Barry. 
One of Olivia's creations; Titania from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Olivia’s exuberance and confidence resonates more with the personality traits of someone at center stage than behind the scenes, which is fitting considering Olivia starred as Katherine Minola, the shrew, in last semester’s The Taming of the Shrew.
Currently working on her cinema studies senior’s honor thesis about silent film representations of Katherine in productions of The Taming of The Shrew, Olivia's immediate post-graduation plans include graduate school. “I’m very interested in pursuing adaptation studies further and researching how modern film, literature, and theater intersect, but also how interpretations of certain characters within certain elements within works are expressed in new ways.”
After schooling, Olivia hopes to teach and write professionally about the subject and becoming an expert in her Shakespeare and film adaptation niche, designing costumes professionally for Shakespeare productions on her free time. “I really love what I do and it would be incredible if I could get paid to do it.” 
With the hard work and sheer determination Olivia has exemplified in her undergraduate career, the sky’s the limit.
For more about Olivia, visit: