October 26, 2015
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The theatre department stepped into fall with a spring cleanout of the costume closet recently when Texas A&M University-Commerce’s Alpha Psi Omega and United States Institute of Technical Theatre chapters had a rummage sale on the main stage in the Performing Arts Center.
“When I became the faculty adviser for APO in January 2015, the organization’s officers were brainstorming ideas for fundraisers,” Rebecca Worley, assistant professor of theatre and former APO member, said. “I remembered the costume/prop sale that the USITT chapter at SIU (Southern Illinois University) did every year, so I suggested it as a possible fundraising event to do here.”
When Donna and Casey became faculty members this summer; she, I and Casey started talking more and more about it.” The planning that took place to put the rummage sale together “started the second week of school,” Donna Deverell, costume shop supervisor, adjunct faculty member, and former two year president for the A&M-Commerce chapter of APO, said.
“And lasted everyday for four hours a day, five days a week, then we started putting the word out. Everyday students in Practicum, working in the costume shop, would go through the closet and we’d take everything out and look at it and say whether we needed it or could get rid of it.
In theatre you never know when you will need something for just one thing or more than once. I’ve been part of the department for fifteen years and I have never seen a purge like this one.” Theatre costumes and props are donated from estate sales, sewn in the costume shop and made by the students, so “we had to have the sale because in theatre random special things accumulate.
Worley said, “We got rid of quite a bit, 20 students, from both organizations, worked in total. There were props and costumes that people could use for Halloween, vintage costumes, some almost 100-year old pieces, 80’s prom dresses, an Underwood typewriter.”
Worley, Watkins and Deverell worked with the planning and tagging; they finished the pricing on Friday, “they used their specialized training in costume and props,” Worley said, “to make sure the items’ pricing suited its value.” “In theatre majority of everything is made by hand, which adds to its value,” Deverell said.
“So when the customers were paying for an item they were also paying for the time and labor we spent making it.”The students did the Saturday work—helping customers find what they were looking for, giving information on the items, etc. “While we handled the money, sat back, and ordered the pizzas,” Worley said.
Former students came by and bought costumes they performed in, “some pieces are made specifically for an actor and actors grow attached to those pieces, so this was their opportunity to relive that moment by buying that costume,” Worley said.
“When we were going through the rummage sale stuff, we came across the first dress I’d ever sewn,” Deverell said, “and it was horrific, it looked horrible, like a drunk person had sewn it. But it was the first piece I’d done and I couldn’t part with it, so I had to keep it.”
Children’s Theatre Company came. There were one act play directors looking for stock, as well as local and out of town actors. Items were put on consignment at Fine Finds. This was the first rummage sale held at A&M-Commerce, and “it was a learning experience,” Brittney Noland, current APO President, said, “and it was a success, we got rid of a lot. It was exhausting, [however], theatre majors love what we do, we are very dedicated; and without Donna, Casey and Rebecca, this wouldn’t of happened.”
The leftovers went to My Sister’s Closet. My Sister’s Closet is a local charity—with a location in Commerce, and the other in Greenville, whose proceeds go to displaced women and children. “APO is a service organization, and we love helping out the community,” Worley said.
“So with My Sister’s Closet, our organization can immediately help local families—they could be students who attend our university, the children who students who attend, the parents; you just never know, so it feels good to help out the community, and our theatre students made a good chunk of change.”