Hannah Chalman

Hannah is a graduate student and costume designer for It's a Wonderful Life: Radio Show on Dec. 3-5 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 6 at 3 p.m. at the Raymond Hodges Theatre in the Siegel Performing Arts Center. Tickets can be found here

Hometown: Jackson County, Tennessee

Major: MFA Costume Design 

How did you get into costuming?

I actually had always wanted to be a fashion designer, and after I went to my first year of pre-med concentration - yeah, I wanted to be a forensic pathologist - so after my first year I hated (it), I didn’t want to do it. So I actually was just like, “well what do I know I love?” and clothing, clothing has always been very important to me. So then I started out in Retail and Consumer Science with the intent of doing fashion school after my undergrad, and then I interviewed Bill Black from the University of Tennessee as the head of design for a school assignment, and the professor to the Intro to Costume Design class, and took his class and never stopped. And that’s it, hahaha.

How did you find out about the VCU Theatre program?

I found out about about VCU through SETC, the Southeastern Theatre Conference, which is a theatre convention where a bunch of schools go. So UT in Knoxville always goes, and Toni always brings her grad students and a lot of her undergrads, and the schools that go kinda always encourage their undergraduate and graduate students to go and put their names out there. So I went two years, and Mary Ann is good friends with Toni and Ron Keller, and she just asked Toni to look at my work the first year and the second year I guess she sent something again or Toni stopped by and that’s how I found out about VCU

What do you like most about costuming?

Oh gosh that’s so hard. I love theatre because of the people and the environment. And just how when I stated theatre, I felt normal. But I love costuming specifically because it is so involved with clothing which is just something that is a language that I speak. Like clothing is a language. And every choice that we make, even without thinking about it, says something about us. I love specifically how in costuming you’re thinking about the past and the present. To me it’s better than fashion because to me fashion is always about thinking about the next trend or the next trend colors all of that stuff that I hate. And I love how costuming is so much more involved. I think there’s a lot more heart and knowledge put into costuming than fashion.

What was your inspiration for It’s a Wonderful Life: Radio Show?

My inspiration for It’s a Wonderful Life is of course the film. Because it all started with the film and it’s also just that feeling of Christmas and how we give that to people because that’s what It’s a Wonderful Life is meant to do. It’s meant to be a redemption piece and spiritual, even if you don’t believe in God or angels.So I just took it from things that I was experiencing from life and that feeling of Christmas that we always think about - that nostalgic feeling. So I kind of introduced that to classic 40s styles, and the characters. And hopefully that’s what’s going to be on stage. 

Are you excited to be working with the cast?

I am! I’m mostly excited because this production is introducing a lot more behind-the-scenes. So there’s not only the characters that are within the story, which are the most important characters, but they are also characters that they’re playing as other layers to introduce and play with for their final characters. I’m excited to see what kind of quirks they come up with, because specifically with this process with it being a class, which I have class during, I haven’t seen any of their staging yet. So I’m excited to see how my talks with them in the dressing room and during fittings, and my thoughts on it and Alex Burkhart’s, who’s the Director, his thoughts and just see how they’re all going to come together on stage.

Photo courtesy of Theatre VCU