The Mountain Times

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Dancing feet and the language of theater

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 May.

Several KAG members are associated with its success.

Tagged: Killington Art's Guild