Festival Feature: Meet Costume Draper Steven Schmid
By Liz Armstrong
Steven Schmid has a long and extensive history in theatre production, from working in construction to costuming to teaching. This season, he took on the role as a draper in the Festival’s Costume Shop for the production of Timon of Athens.
Schmid’s Work in Timon of Athens
As the draper, Schmid worked with Costume Designer An-Lin Dauber, interpreting her drawings and developing the patterns to fit the actors. He also supervised fittings, the cutting and construction of new items, and the alterations and re-engineering of the pieces pulled from previous productions.
“The costumes are integral to the story in Timon of Athens,” Schmid said. “They’re not just ornamentation, but they [need to represent] a society full of the trimmings and trappings that can blind the true nature of people.”
For Schmid, the costumes represent the responsibility to live authentically and be genuine in our communications and our daily interactions in life.
“Timon is a great showpiece of what we can do at the Festival—with the text, the technical support, and the costumes,” Schmid said. “And the actors are phenomenal.”
The first and only other time the Festival has produced Timon of Athens was in 1993, which was Schmid’s first season working here. Thirty years later, Schmid returned for the second production of this rarely-performed Shakespeare play.
His Journey in Theatre
“I started doing theatre in my mid-teens,” Schmid said. “I found I not only liked being onstage, but I liked being backstage in technical work.”
Schmid is a Southern Utah University graduate, and while attending school, met his wife, who was in the opening season of the Randall L. Jones Theatre in 1989.
“We were both working in the costume shop,” Schmid said. “She started as a performer, and then a milliner at the Festival, and I was a stitcher.”
Schmid held various positions at the Festival, and even designed the costumes for the Educational Tour for a few seasons.
“That’s a different, quicker process, but as an educator, I love the thought of taking the show out to people, primarily young audiences who might not yet have had exposure to [Shakespeare].”
Schmid received a degree in teaching and taught high school for fifteen years. When his wife got a job with Brigham Young University-Idaho as a full-time professor, Schmid became an adjunct professor. He teaches directing, voice and dialect, script analysis, dramaturgy, and more. In addition to teaching, Schmid freelances.
“I’ve worked with Pioneer Theatre Company, Utah Festival Opera and Musical Theatre, Tuacahn Center for the Arts, Hale Center Theatre, and Utah Opera,” Schmid said.
This season was a full circle moment for Schmid, as being back at the Festival means he is back in the career that once put him and his wife through college.
“It’s been really fun to work over the years with drapers and designers,” Schmid said. “The Festival is a great place to work, as very few places take the time and care to produce shows at this level.”
Schmid believes that’s why so many people in the Costume Shop return each season.
“The people [Costume Director] Jeff Lieder hires are a blast to work with,” Schmid said. “It’s a tricky blend, as you want to have new life and new blood each season, but also keep that legacy of those that have been here for so long. It’s keeping what the Festival has been—and shaping what it gets to be.”
To see Schmid’s costuming work in Timon of Athens, purchase tickets at bard.org or call 800-PLAYTIX.
In addition to Timon of Athens, the 2023 lineup of productions include Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jane Austen’s Emma The Musical, A Raisin in the Sun, The Play That Goes Wrong, and Coriolanus.