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E. Marie Barber

Costumer for Theatre

To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time. (Definition: the theatre artist responsible for the costume elements in a play.)

Leonard Bernstein

Designer and full-time technical support staff, E.M. Barber offers hands on experience in the Costume Studio to interested parties with credit available. She runs the costume shop in the Myers Fine Arts building and supervises work-study and temp service personnel. Her position allows her to design the main stage productions directed by faculty, work closely with the students and mentor independent studies. She maintains and manages an extensive collection of costumes for the primary use of the Department of Theatre at SUNY Plattsburgh.

Barber is an alumna of SUNY Plattsburgh theatre program with concentrations in music and art. Although she started as a music major, she soon found her true inspiration under the tutelage of Dr. Timothy Palkovic when she took his puppetry class as a scared freshman. Theatre became the art, expression, frustration, and most of all the LOVE of her creative spirit. Leaving Plattsburgh (Class of ’81, ΑΨΩ, ΟΔΚ, NTA) to follow her dreams of “all things fabric” and the fiber arts, she became the resident costumer for Western Maryland College’s Theatre-on-the-Hill. She enjoyed supporting the fledgling years of this now very well-established summer stock theatre (at what is now known as McDaniel’s College in Westminster Maryland). In between teaching and summer stock in Maryland, she also pursued a career springboard at The Costumer in the capital district of New York. Working at the best known rental house north of Broadway gave her the opportunity to see every show that toured through Schenectady’s Proctor’s Theatre and compile plot designs based on the numerous shows for multiple seasons. The Costumer utilized her drafting, patternmaking, design and construction skills to the full during her time there. The Albany area also afforded her the opportunity to be involved in the initiation of the Trinity Park Players as actor, puppeteer and costumer. Their small troupe produced and toured original material, one acts, children’s theatre and improv in the greater tri-city area.

The key to the mystery of a great artist is that for reasons unknown, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another… and leaves us with the feeling that something is right in the world.
Leonard Bernstein

Barber’s experience with puppeteering, costuming, tailoring, alterations, upholstery, interior decorating, quilting, weaving, millinery, custom sewing and crafts, retailing fabric, and bridal couture brought the realization that very little can replace the exhilaration of an opening night. Returning to SUNY Plattsburgh as resident costume designer in the mid 90’s to fill the shoes of then retired mentor Dr. Ruth Kline, was an unexpected yet gratefully accepted challenge. A love of people, music, and theatre has brought her into collaboration with students, alumni and community production groups throughout the North Country and Vermont. She has worked professionally as costumer, theatre technician, lighting operator, set dresser, props mistress, actor and musician. Her travels have taken her back stage with the rich and famous; professionals in dance, theatre, solo and group concert venues, children’s theatre, professional ice skating and historical re-enactors. One of the greatest joys of this excellent journey, however, is the chance to teach what she loves, and love who she teaches, and for that, she is truly appreciative to SUNY Plattsburgh and all her students, past, current, and future.

When not drinking tea and sewing in the costume shop, she can be found downtown at the North Country Food Co-Op where she is a long time staff member. Barber performs as a concert saxophonist in the area and can be found singing regularly in her congregation. She is an active member of the local parishioners of Jehovah’s Witnesses, enjoying worship of the Creator, obedience to Christ and the balance it gives her to be able to volunteer in her community.

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