News - 02/28/2013

MiraCosta College Student Takes Award in Costume Design

Hannah Dohrer

A MiraCosta College theatre student has captured an award as top costume designer in a region that includes much of the Western United States. Now she is headed to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as a national finalist.

Hannah Dohrer is an acting student who served as a costume designer for the first time when the MiraCosta College Theatre Department produced `Oedipus the King’ last year. Her work earned the prestigious Costume Design Award at the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival Feb. 17 at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in downtown Los Angeles.

“I was extremely shocked,” said Dohrer, 19. “It is an incredible honor.”

Dohrer won top honors in a region including Central and Southern California, along with Arizona, Utah, Hawaii, and Southern Nevada.

Dohrer has been acting since she appeared in a production of Treasure Island at Oak Crest Middle School in Encinitas when she was 11. Upon graduating from San Dieguito Academy in Encinitas, Dohrer enrolled at MiraCosta College and took part in several Theatre Department productions. Last year, she was asked to help out with the costume design for a production of Henry IV. 

“I kind of became the person that everyone went to for help in building their costume,” she said. “I think they saw my potential, and they offered to have me costume `Oedipus.’” 

Dohrer had never previously sewn an outfit together, but she soon went to work and met with the director to “come up with the kind of vision you want to create through the costumes.” 

She had plenty of help along the way from Alina Bokovikova, a costume designer at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, and technical director Andrew Layton.

“It is quite unusual and an honor to receive such an award for your first production,” Bokovikova said. “But, for her it was to be expected, she worked to her restrictions, and made the most out of it. She knew what she had to do, and worked with the manager perfectly. Since she is new, she has her own style that has not Costume Award 'Oedipus Rex': Hannah Dohrerbeen influenced deeply by others. She thinks outside of the box, sometimes not even knowing this box exists. And I wish for her to keep this unique creative nature of hers as long as possible.”

Dohrer said about 90 percent of the 30 or so costumes used in the play were made from scratch. “You pull out a basic piece and build over it,” she said. “You just have to take a risk and hope that it comes together.”

Said Bokovikova: “Costume design for this show was a combination of period silhouette
and modern material choice, with emphasis on diversity of cultural background of characters and actors who are on stage. It is an old story told in contemporary costume language, and the designer's goal is to support the telling of the story, but not to be overwhelming. I think Hannah really succeeded in it.”

Dohrer plans to stay at MiraCosta College for another year, in part because of its Theatre Department. She hopes to earn a degree from a four-year university before ultimately opening a theatre group for physically and mentally disabled children.

“I feel like they are given so many fewer opportunities and many of them have a great imagination,” Dohrer said. “I would like to give them an opportunity to help express that imagination.”

She believes her experience as a costume designer will be invaluable in reaching her dream of establishing a theatre group. “It has taught me a lot about the process of creating something from scratch,” Dohrer said.

Dohrer, who also played the female lead in Oedipus as Joscasta, was not the only MiraCosta College student to be honored at the Los Angeles ceremony. Miranda LeRae and Carly Dellinger made the semi-final round in the Irene Ryan Acting competition. Kayti Bulfinch won the Newbie Stage Management Award, and Bryan Taylor won a full dance scholarship to CSU Summer Arts this summer in Monterey.

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