The work of Barry Sellers, draper at Hartford Stage for 30 years, is being celebated with an exhibit that features costumes, photographs and commentary at the theater. An invitation only reception will be held Monday at 6 p.m. at the theater.
Sellers has helped create more than 1,000 costumes for almost 200 productions.
The exhibit will be on display in the Lobby, Upper Lobby and in the Room, adjacent to the main lobby, through April 29, with additional costume displays to be added.
So what is a draper?
"The draper turns designers’ sketches into three-dimensional, wearable costumes by first developing patterns from which the garments will be made. The process of developing the pattern is done by draping and pinning muslin on a dress form until the desired design is achieved, hence the term ‘draper.’ The draper’s work is particularly important for historical costumes or other garments that cannot be purchased or found."
Former Artistic Director Michael Wilson: “I first heard about Barry’s genius with scissors and muslin from Annalee Jefferies, when in Barry’s third season she played Olga in Mark’s production of 'The Three Sisters.' I would first see Barry’s wizardry with my own eyes in Mark’s productions of 'Hamlet' and 'Peer Gynt.' That year Hartford Stage was recognized for its production excellence with the Tony Award for Outstanding Resident Theatre. The not-so-secret ingredient for making astonishing and memorable theatre at Hartford Stage was – and still is-Barry Sellers. “
“I heard about Hartford Stage’s long-time draper, Barry Sellers, long before I became artistic director here,” said current Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak. “Directors talk to each other. Designers talk. Everyone values a good draper. And Barry is something of a legend.”
“I have designed nine shows at the Hartford Stage and am always eager to return because the artisans there are of the highest caliber and carry a great commitment to the art of theatre,” said Tony-winning designer Susan Hilferty. “Barry Sellers is a master.”
Sellers discovered theater as an art student at the University of Alabama. After graduating with a BFA he changed to the graduate program in theater at the University, studying with his mentor and friend, Lynne Emmert Horpedal.
Sellers left Alabama to pursue a Master’s degree in design at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas, Texas, where he studied with Rosemary Ingham and Bill and Jean Eckart. While living in Texas, Barry had the opportunity to work with theater artist Irene Cory and Alberto Cerconni, former head tailor of Neiman Marcus.
He worked with the Dallas Ballet, The Dallas Theater Center, Grafica Design Company, and the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, where he met staff members from Hartford Stage. While in New York City at a conference of the League of Professional Training Schools sponsored by SMU, he was interviewed and hired by then costume shop manager Martha Christian for Hartford Stage.