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Maureen Fitzgerald works on a costume bodice for the Lost Colony’s costume shop.

Drake students help theatre company after fire destroys

A handful of Drake theatre students are putting their
craftsmanship and free time to good use by helping a fellow theatre company
after a fire.

The Lost Colony, a theatre production company in Manteo,
N.C., was stripped of most of its costume collection when a fire burned down
the company’s costume shop in September 2007. The company was left with only
court costumes that were at the dry cleaner when the fire broke out.

Josie Poppen, Drake theatre costume designer/faculty member,
heard about the fire through Facebook, an online social network, and contacted
the theatre to help out. Although Poppen had no previous history with the
company, she still felt compelled to do something.

“It just sounded like a long established theatre
company that could use some help, and provide some meaningful work for our
students at the same time,” she said.

The students who work in the Drake costume studio have been
busy recreating capes and bodices for the company. Maureen Fitzgerald, a junior
theatre design and technology major, said it is important to help those in

“Very few theatres can do a production from scratch.
They rely on stock costumes. In this case, it would take years and years to
build the costumes again,” said Fitzgerald of Lincoln, Neb. “It is
very fulfilling to help out.”

Both Poppen and Fitzgerald talked about a
“pay-it-forward” attitude — help someone out in need now and hope
others will do the same if you are ever in need.

“I would hope that if our theatre company or department
were ever in this situation that we could call upon our friends in the theatre
community to help us as well,” Poppen said. “I think we all realize
that our business in the arts is a fragile one, financially speaking.  We need to support each other whenever

Poppen said she hopes the department can continue to work
for the Lost Colony in the 2008-09 academic year.

The students will benefit, Poppen said, because “it
provides costume construction experience during times in our semester that we
are not actively involved in our production work.”