Meet Elise Kulovany - Costume Designer for Sense & Sensibility

"I’m Elise, born and raised Fort Collins native then thought Colorado was the worst place to live. Spent ten years away living in Indiana, Illinois, Arkansas, England, Ohio, California, New Mexico and working for various theatre companies (Santa Fe Opera, Arkanas Repertory Theatre, Los Rios Community College) and clawed my way back to the BEST place to live. I have an MFA in Costume Design and Technology from Southern Illinois University and a BS in theatre Education from the University of Evansville. If I ever have any free time I try to spend with my husband, our two doggos, and our best friends from Arkansas who live here now!! I love Halloween the most and pumpkins are my jam! I even had 86 pumpkins on my front porch and in my house this year."

When did you first become involved with OpenStage?

My first involvement with Openstage was for 2018’s production of Frankenstein and I had a blast!

What is your favorite show you’ve ever designed costumes for?

I LOVED designing costumes for Ragtime at Southern Illinois. It was my thesis production and the entire cast was so sweet and amazing and the costuming was a huge undertaking on a very small budget.  This helped prep me for all things costuming and being able to think out of the box when you’re trying to accomplish a specific look.  Did you know you can make a chandelier out of Gatorade bottles?

How do you balance your work with OpenStage and your work with Colorado State University?

I try to work at OpenStage at times when it permits for the CSU calendar.  We costume 12-16 shows a year at CSU so I’m often found going from one tech to another.  Sydney is always super great to work with and I get schedules in advance so that when I’m at my downtime for CSU, I can help out with OpenStage.

How did you approach costume design for Sense and Sensibility? Did you go for a historically accurate approach or was there more creative freedom?

Due to the nature of the show and the really fascinating take on wanting to “gender-bend” the Gossips to make a statement that gossiping is not something that isn’t solely feminine, but rather something all society can partake in at a detrimental level, I was able to take the show in a really compelling direction.  Therefore, all characters have both “female” and “male” specific elements that are true to the time period with a twist of modern thrown in.  I wouldn’t say we’re extremely historically accurate but rather living in an environment that harkens to the then as well as being in the now so that the audience can see we haven’t really come that far in society and one comment can potentially ruin someone’s reputation, livelihood. Etc. I was able to pull from OpenStage stock, CSU storage, and source from online retailers to get the specific aesthetic we were going for.

Who have been your biggest mentors in the theatre industry and what is the best advice they have ever given you?

I try to constantly learn from everywhere I am and everyone I interact with. The people who’ve taught me the most are the ones who can roll with the punches and have great attitudes through adversity. My mentor in graduate school, Wendi Zea was a great mentor and taught me SO MUCH.  I’ve also worked with some pretty famous designers as well and learned that they’re still just people and those who are humble and genuine are the best to work with. I’ve learned from performers who are genuinely good people and nice to everyone they encounter and also those who are not the best humans and teach you how not to act to a fellow human.  Noah Racey was one of those amazingly sweet and genuine performers I interacted with in Arkansas on the Regional World Premiere of Bridges of Madison County.  Simply put, be a good human.  Treat others well.  Put out kindness and your genuine self and you’ll get mostly the same back to you.

Sense and Sensibility

Directed by Noah Racey
Original Score by Aaron Gandy

March 26 – April 23, 2022

When reputation is everything, how do you follow your heart? This fresh, spirited update of Jane Austen’s beloved novel follows the fortunes (and misfortunes) of the Dashwood Sisters ‒ “sensible” Elinor and “sensitive” Marianne ‒ after their father’s sudden death leaves them financially destitute and socially vulnerable. Exploring what it is to be women traversing society, gossip and the opposing opinions of your heart and mind, Hamill’s adaptation explores the classic story with humor and bold theatricality, highlighted by original music and movement.