Review from Mela Hoyt-Heydon, Chairman of the Theatre Arts Department
December 14, 2011
I am honored to have been asked to write a recommendation for Ann Closs-Farley for a position as a professor of costuming for the University of California, Los Angeles. I have had the pleasure of knowing Ann since 1991 when she first took a costuming class from me at Fullerton College. She came in, not as someone interested in costuming, but as an acting student who had to take a technical theatre class along with her advanced acting class. She proceeded to build as her beginning project, a complete male Elizabethan costume for herself to wear to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. She was never one to want to follow what everyone else was doing and felt she wanted to be different and make menswear. The final project was marvelous (I still have that entire class’s picture wearing their projects in my living room as it was a stellar class) and I like to feel that I turned her over to the “dark side” (we do have cookies!).
Since then, I have had the opportunity to see Ann go from her first non-academic design projects to her current costuming projects and have had the joy of watching a young woman grow into a solid designer. She is a hands on designer and understands all aspects of the process from conceptualization to selection of materials on through patterning, construction and final touches. On the other hand, she knows when to delegate, how to use an assistant, the negotiation process with multiple build shops and how to handle not only corporate design (Disney) but small independent companies also. Actors love her as she really tries to include them in the design process, if even to just make them understand where she and the director are going. Usually, actors just have fun wearing her clothes.
Ann has the knack of looking at a project from outside the box while still understanding how to work from within the box. She is flexible so that a million dollar show looks like a million dollar show but also can deliver the $100.00 show and have it look like so much more. She can design within a budget but also knows when to push the budget for the good of the show. Not many people are creative enough to every year pull off the 99 Cent show’s costumes as she does.
I have never met a director who hasn’t loved working with Ann. She understands the concept that show revolves around the director’s vision and will always strive towards that goal. On the other hand, she is very good at subtly opening the eyes of a director to the possibilities that only she could come up with and usually is able to bring that director around to that vision, which has suddenly become theirs. She comes to the design table prepared, flexible, organized and with more ideas than anyone could conceive of. Watch out for the energy, she is infectious!
I have also had the pleasure of judging young future costumer’s work with her at several festivals. Her encouraging words to the students are insightful, uplifting and allow the students see the possibilities within themselves and causing them to want to push themselves further. She is careful when needing to allow them to see other ways of expressing their design ideas and very positive when the work is exceptional. Along that line, my youngest daughter Victoria is currently a student at USC in the theatre department where Ann has been a guest lecturer. On several occasions Victoria has commented on how well the lectures have gone over when Ann has spoken to the students. Students can identify with Ann, especially the creative ones. She instills excitement into the field of designs and opens their eyes to all the possibilities. She never talks down to those younger, but knows how to hit the right tone of mentor but still current and aware.
Last and not least, Ann is a family person. Her family is important and she gives her time to it. In the same way, UCLA will become part of her family and she will give her all to the university. Ann has strong loyalties and will always jump to defend and support “the family”. This is very rare in today’s world and I feel it is a very strong component needed in educational theatre. Often we become the students parents while they are with us and if we don’t value that family unit, they won’t either.
I strongly recommend Ann Closs-Farley as a professor of costuming at UCLA and know you will very happy with your selection if you offer her a job. If there are any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on my cell, (714 393 0505), as it is the holiday and I won’t be in my office next week until the end of January.
Chairman, Theatre Arts Department