by Estelle Rosen
Eo Sharp is a Set and Costume designer who has been working for just over 20 years.
CHARPO: One wouldn't usually expect a correlation between set and costume design, even though all design elements in a play, to a certain extent, interact. Did your becoming a set and costume designer result as part of a specific plan, or as often happens, it evolved?
SHARP: My original plan was to be a costume historian. I began studying art history at the University of Toronto with the intention of doing a Phd in Costume History and working in a museum.
While getting my BFA I realized that I did not want to just accumulate knowledge but that I wanted to transform it, to create and build things based on my knowledge.
So my studies changed direction and after graduating I went to the National Theatre School to study set and costume design.
I have been designing sets and costumes since graduating.
For me the set and costumes are deeply interconnected. I am creating the world in which the characters exist and it is rare that I do not do both.
I see the design as being the visual translation of the text, so for me theatre design encompasses both.
When I first graduated I was always offered work designing costumes because I am a woman; whereas my male classmates were offered sets. (We used to joke amongst ourselves about the absurdity of it).
I started to refuse contracts unless I was offered both sets and costumes. At first theatre companies were very resistant to offering me both, but I was insistent.
Now they do not understand if I want to do only one...
Them's the breaks.