ARTIST PROFILE SERIES - CSS Costume Designer Sasha Howell
“One should either be a work of art or wear a work of art.” Oscar Wilde
As a fashionista and costume designer, Sasha Howell lives her life in the style that writer Oscar Wilde and famous fashionista himself described. A colorful personality who says she is a collector of tattoos, Sasha brings her whimsical artistic sensibilities to everything she does.
Born in Willmar, MN, she lived several places growing up, mainly in Ottumwa, IA, where she went to high school. She came to UMD planning to be an Art major but graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre with a minor in Studio Art.
She received her Master’s Degree at St. Scholastica where she has worked as their costume designer and costume shop supervisor since 2011. For the last few years, she has also taught a class in Scholastica’s Dignitas program on human dignity through fashion and clothing.
Sasha has a five-year-old daughter named Paisley who she describes as “the light of her life,” and a ten-year-old pug dog named Johan. In her spare time, she loves going camping, attending concerts and festivals, and discovering new music.
When describing her early inspirations with costuming, she said, “I liked being playful with Halloween costumes throughout the years. Since I was a kid, I've always had a passion for fashion—altering things and making them customized. I love working with my hands, and my favorite skill is creative problem-solving.”
“In college, I had the opportunity to see The Lion King as a traveling show and was blown away! I don't think it clicked yet that I could do a job in that field, but when I moved to Duluth, I saw my first show at Renegade Theater Company and really wanted to get involved,” she explained.
For Renegade, she went on to costume design for The Sparrow, Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson, Dogfight, Marie Antoinette, Spring Awakening, and others. She has designed all but two of the productions of St. Scholastica since she started there. Her favorites have been Seussical the Musical, Endgame, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Diary of Anne Frank, Journey's End, and Little Shop of Horrors.
For the Playhouse, she designed costumes for Spamalot, Boeing Boeing, and Hair, and for Lundeen productions, she costume-designed Pippin.
“I have also done two local film productions, put on a couple of fashion shows (one a Halloween dog fashion show), did some costume work for a horror film company my friends and I started called Murder Pretty, and have had various wacky requests and projects throughout the years,” she said.
“This may sound silly but I've always dreamed of costuming for rock bands and being on tour with them,” Sasha said. “I think it would be fun to costume groups like In This Moment, Sleep Token, etc. I love that bands are expressing creativity through costume and pageantry.”
She added, “I never know what things might pop up in my life in terms of creative projects! I love that people not only know of my work but think of me for the wildest projects!”
Of her mentors, she said, “Our local costume designers—we have some really talented folks here in the Twin Ports who are so creative and inventive. I have learned tons from each, and we've formed a bit of a collective. So we have a built-in network when we need it. That collective has been so valuable and instrumental in my growth as an artist.”
Sasha noted, “Laura Piotrowski, the Manager of the UMD Costume Shop, has been the one to teach me the trade, support me along my journey, and help me problem-solve things along the way. She's a close personal friend now, and she is incredibly dedicated and talented.”
“I would be nothing without the strong Duluth arts community and the people who support my work,” she stated. “I'm so inspired by the work happening in this community and the folks who have kept it up and running over the years. There are so many artists here that I've built a rapport and friendship with, and they are all so deserving of recognition!”
Upcoming St. Scholastica Production of Comedy of Errors
“Comedy of Errors is set in a coastal ambiguous town. The director wants the period to be a bit ambiguous as well, so we've taken an approach of Renaissance (as a design choice for silhouette) with a little flexibility of pieces that may not traditionally fit in that period. So we'll see some splashes of Medieval and Georgian,” said Sasha who designed the costumes for this show.
She added, “It’s a fun comedy with tons of slapstick humor, cheeky dialogue and innuendo, and the costumes are going to be great! There is also some playfulness that happens with the set designed by Kevin Seime that will be sure to be hilarious and lovely.”
See Comedy of Errors Nov 3-5, 9-11 at The College of St. Scholastica. Get information and tickets here.
About Sheryl Jensen - Arts & Entertainment Editor
A retired educator with the Duluth Public Schools, Sheryl Jensen has been a theater director of over 60 school and community productions. Her production of William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew at East High School won the National High School Theater award from the BRAVO television network.
Having written theater, music, dance, and opera reviews for the Duluth News Tribune for many years, she now is the Arts & Entertainment Editor for Destination Duluth.
William Shakespeare weaves a twisted tale around identical twin sons with two identical servants who were separated by a shipwreck at sea and years later cross paths. Without knowing of the other pair’s existence, the four men interact with each other and those who know them in a constant flux of misunderstanding, mistaken identity, and hilarity.
Tickets: $17 general admission; $12 students and seniors; $7; CSS students with ID; free for Sisters of the St. Scholastica Monastery.
Buy tickets online at thecollegeofstscholastica.ticketspice.com/the-comedy-of-errors or call 218-723-5900.
The Comedy of Errors
Adapted by Ann Wilkinson
Directed by Mary Jo Sodd
November 3, 4, 9*, 10, 11 AT 7:30 PM
November 5, 12 AT 2 PM
*ASL interpreted performance November 9 (tentative)