Professor Martin A. Thaler meets the audience at Osher with a
twinkling smile and dancing feet. All the time he is speaking his
feet are moving. Dancing was his specialty when he became a faculty
member of the University of Vermont's drama school. Now he teaches
costume and design.
Thaler had just driven two hours through an unexpected snow and
rain storm from Burlington to be with the audience. He brings with
him lessons that he gives his students which are not about cutting
cloth or sewing costumes but about living.
First, he tells his students read the play you are going to be
working on, learn about the characters, know everything about them
and their world. For example: Do they live in a world where women
cannot be married and hold a job? Where women cannot wear pants to
work? Where they supposed to be home by 8 p.m. at night? Or is it
the rule that everyone can do everything?
Rules make a difference.
He teaches his students to draw and paint if they do not know
how. This is the language of the theater. He says everyone can
learn to draw and paint. He hurt his arm and had to re-teach
himself to do these things from scratch. Learning depends on a
willingness to take simple steps and go slowly.
A costumer must have wardrobe from which to create costumes. The
basic part of that the wardrobe are the foundations-the bustles and
hairpieces that transform an outfit into a period costume.
At the end of his talk he shows the audience photos of hats and
demonstrated that two basic forms a flat hat and a cloche hat could
be made into dozens of variations.
He spoke of himself often as a collaborator in the development
of a play. One might say of Thayer that he creates the costume that
changes an actor into a king. But he himself has not forgotten his
first art - Dancing. Watch his feet they are always moving.
Osher is at the Gotnick every Friday at 1 p.m. and open to the
public for a modest fee. The current series runs through
Several KAG members are associated with its success.