College Corner: Interview with Laila Swanson, Costume Shoppe manager

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

About two weeks ago, the College had the pleasure of welcoming Laila Swanson as the new head of the Costume Shoppe. Swanson in turn graciously agreed to share some of her experiences in the past and goals for the future.

Daily Gazette: So where are you from?
Laila Swanson: I’ve been in the Wallingford area a long time.

DG: Then you’ve come to Swarthmore before, surely?
LS: Yes, I’ve been to Swarthmore many times; I have friends in Swarthmore.

DG: Where were you before Swat?
LS: Well, I’m originally from Norway. I received my theater education at Temple University. I got my MFA in set and costume design also at Temple. I’ve done theater and film work since graduation, and have been a scenic artist for movies.

DG: Oh, anything that the students might know?
LS: Well, I’ve worked on all the M. Night Shyamalan movies…(laughs) I don’t think I have to name them.

DG: How did you get into the costume business?
LS: I always had an interest for performing arts, history and cultures. I had a desire to create, of course. I think the interest in history was particularly prominent when I was younger–I liked to recreate times and places…oh, I had the ability to draw, and then everything came together.

DG: Philosophically, what do you believe is the role of costume in theater?
LS: Costume…is for enhancing the story, emphasizing history, and is a presentation piece. I think it’s mostly an emphasis of time–it tells you the story right away, as in, is it the 50’s or the 1890’s.

DG: For those that don’t know, what exactly is your role here?
LS: The job is called “Costume Shoppe Supervisor.” I maintain the Costume Shoppe, help with theater and dance productions, and supervise students, both those who are taking Costume Shoppe as a lab for the costume design class, and student workers.

DG: Do you have any current projects?
LS: Not anything in particular. I’m working on a few things for the dance department. Right now, I’m taking care of the future look of the Costume Shoppe.

DG: What would you like to accomplish with the Costume Shoppe?
LS: I hope to put together a nice room that not only facilitates great costumes but also is a nice place to come and work for the theater department. You know, we could have an espresso bar over here, and a multimedia center over there…(laughs) I’m joking, of course.

DG: It would be nice, though. Is there anything you would like to tell the student body?
LS: Yes, if anyone is interested in being a student worker, do apply.

Laila Swanson can be reached at x6174. The Costume Shoppe is located in the basement of LPAC (Room 16), and is open this semester as follows: Mondays, 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.; Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Fridays, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m.

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