October 26, 2011
By Corina Leu '12
In her time at Mount Holyoke, Anna Rose Keefe ’13 has handled a few legendary garments. A fur coat worn by Grace Goodhue, the wife of Calvin Coolidge; a dress worn by Janet Huntington Brewster, the wife of Edward R. Murrow. Although costume conservation has recently become the focus of her passion in design, Keefe comes from a strong background in Theatre Arts and Costume Construction. She says, “I used to be an actor. Then I got involved with costume design and I loved it. I wanted to work with people, see what we can create, what new perspectives we can provide. This is living art.”
This realization brought her to Mount Holyoke and for the past three years, Anna Rose Keefe has been the Costume Shop Assistant at the Theater Department. Besides designing costumes for the productions put out by the Theatre Department, she is also involved with Project Theatre, Mount Holyoke’s student theatre organization. Keefe says, “When I first arrived on campus, I emailed the department letting them know of my interest in helping with the projects.” Although initially, she was not invited on the team, in mid-December of her first-year they emailed her with an offer. “I got lucky, got the job and have been working there ever since,” she says.
As the Costume Shop Assistant, Keefe assists customers, gathers, sews and finds costumes, generates paper work, collaborates with student volunteers, sets up appointments, and maintains and organizes the antique collection. Keefe says, “I value the chance to do these things as a student. If I do something wrong, it’s not held against me, and when I get into the real world I’ll be ready whereas others will be learning on their first jobs.”
Keefe says that combining her major in theatre arts with this job experience has made her a real asset wherever she goes. “There are few classes on campus that prepare you to work in the theatre costume world, it’s the type of thing you can’t take a class for - you have to do it.”
Besides learning new skills and reinforcing her passion for Costume Construction, Keefe says that this opportunity has brought her in closer contact with her mentors. By assisting the instructors in a one-on-one setting, students get to know them as people and they get to know us as more than just their students. “It’s so nice to have talented professionals who care about you and want you to succeed. I feel so valued.”
“Even if it’s not your major, get involved with something you feel passionate about,” she added. “Work-study opportunities are great because they help you determine your preferred options in the field,” she says.