Cassandra Trautman: Designing a Career
January 06, 2014
Dreaming of a career that knits her love of theatre with her passion for sewing, Cassandra Trautman took a chance on Angelo State’s University Theatre program.
Nearly a dozen ASU stage productions later, the senior from Austin is seeing that dream take shape.
Trautman’s costume designs for two recent University Theatre plays, “The Lion in Winter” and “The Fox on the Fairway,” are entered in the six-state regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in the spring of 2014 in Shreveport, La. Winners will advance to the national festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
“Those plays were my big costume moments,” Trautman said. “Before that, I had designed for two student-written one-acts. I did ‘Harvey,’ a show set in the 1940s, my sophomore year. It was the first time I actually had to use a pattern. I made myself learn to use patterns.”
Trautman already has earned a Meritorious Achievement in Costume Design award at the state-level KCACTF, held at ASU last fall. She earned the same recognition for properties design for “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play,” University Theatre’s 2013 holiday dinner theatre production.
Meanwhile, she is in the midst of her greatest challenge so far, designing and creating more than 80 costumes for University Theatre’s spring 2014 show, “Musical of Musicals (The Musical!).” The show is a comedy that satirizes six musical styles of such famous contemporary composers as Rodgers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber.
“I do have a team with me on this one, a wardrobe manager, a wardrobe assistant and two dressers,” Trautman said.
“With theatre majors, everyone knows everyone in a short time. New people become part of the family relatively quickly if they are part of a show.”
These types of opportunities are exactly why Trautman decided to attend Angelo State, relying on the advice of her high school drama teacher, David Nanny, an ASU graduate.
“I was in the top 8 percent of my class so I knew I could get into the bigger schools,” Trautman said. “But at bigger schools, I wouldn’t get to do actual work on important theatre projects until maybe my senior year. At ASU, we focus on who we have, and there are many opportunities to participate.”
“I decided by the time I graduated from high school that I would zero in on costuming,” she continued. “Behind-the-scenes stuff is more practical as far as making a living. With acting, you have to fit a role to get a role.”
Working on so many ASU productions, though, is not easy. In addition to regular classes and homework, theatre majors also face the extra tasks involved with putting together each production, as well as nightly rehearsals for a rapid-fire succession of six shows every year. But, that intensity also creates a close community.
“With theatre majors, everyone knows everyone in a short time,” Trautman said. “New people become part of the family relatively quickly if they are part of a show.”
One particular member of that family who is helping show Trautman the ropes is Eldra Sanford, University Theatre’s longtime costumer.
“Eldra’s like my grandma,” Trautman said. “She’s been my mentor since my first day of college. She taught me just to breathe and to let people help me because I’m never very good at that.”
In addition to her theatre work, Trautman has also been involved in the Student Government Association and United Campus Ministries organizations, and is a member of the Alpha Psi Omega national honorary theatre society and Kappa Pi international honorary art fraternity.
Scheduled to graduate in May of 2014, Trautman plans to continue her dream of working in theatre.
“Theatre works are a tool to teach the human condition,” she said. “It’s a way of showing moral issues in society. You’re removed from it, yet it’s in front of you. I think an audience can gain knowledge, and so do the technicians and actors.”