USITT’s Vice-President for Members, Sections & Chapters, Martha Marking, is new to that position, but as a former Chair of the Southeast Regional Section and a long-time member of the Publications and other committees, she is very familiar to many members. She took office July 1.
Ms. Marking has been a member of the Appalachian State University faculty since 1987. She is a professor of costume and makeup design and technology, and enjoys linking to others outside of her department and making campus-wide connections. Martha is currently the faculty chair of the university’s Early Intervention Team, which is a new initiative on her campus. In 2007, Martha was recognized by the NC University system when she received the College of Fine and Applied Arts Teaching Award in 2007.
She recently served two terms as chair of the Faculty Senate, which she found extremely rewarding. Since she grew up in a family with six sisters and a brother, she says “everything is negotiation,” and work on the Faculty Senate involved some of those negotiating skills. “I felt that I could effect change, and together we could make a difference,” she says, “I really like to work with people and hear differing viewpoints.”
She loves living in the mountains, and community around Boone, North Carolina. Even last winter’s extensive snow days, 20+ for the public school system, where her husband, Michael is a special education teacher at the local high school, did not discourage her. She also loves the energy in larger cities.
In both 2006 and 2009 she managed Appalachian’s loft in New York City, a space that can accommodate up to 24 visitors at a time. While there she enjoyed volunteering at the Museum of the City of New York and working with its extensive costume collection, which connects period costumes and textiles to New York City residents.
Her ability to sew, learning when she was eight or nine, is what led her to theatrical costume design as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She took an introduction to theatre course, found that she needed to put in some backstage hours, and ended up in the costume shop. Her skills were appreciated there and she was able to design 12 shows as an undergraduate, something made possible by wonderful mentors and the small size and liberal arts orientation of UW-W. She appreciates those same qualities at Appalachian State. She earned her MFA degree from Michigan State, learned new skills and made great connections there as well.
Martha enjoys using her skills for different types of productions, and was employed for several years as a cutter/draper and then a designer at the Utah Shakespearean Festival; as returning designer for an outdoor drama, and as a guest designer for schools close to her home. “I really enjoy mentoring students,” she said “and seeing the light that goes on when they make a connection between the classroom and a production.”
This fall, at Appalachian, a production of Stop Kiss is creating excitement for her and the other designers. On a recent visit to New York City, where the play takes place, she took photos for the scene designer to use in a montage and brought back several Village Voice newspapers for the production team.
Ms. Marking sees her new USITT position as a continuation of the relationships she has made within and outside of the Institute. “Of all the officer positions in USITT, this is what I most desire to do,” she says. “I love the people in the organization, and I can’t wait until March to see all of them again. It’s always an intense time of connecting, reconnecting, and learning.”
As VP-Members, Sections & Chapters, she looks forward to working with individuals she already knows, and those she doesn’t, to help them connect with one another to strengthen the organization.
Ms. Marking is adept at finding ways to connect her various interests. She loves to knit, and wrote an article about Chain Mail Techniques at the Utah Shakespearian Festival for TD&T. She has an extensive collection of period knitting magazines and books, but “we’re not the same size we were in the 1940s” she notes, so things must be adapted, for actors bodies today, and often she creates her own patterns.
She teaches knitting classes at local yarn shops, and one year knit socks for all her nieces (when this article appears, she’ll have 22 nieces and nephews). In addition to working at a Bernina sewing store in her “spare time” she says if she “ever retires”, creating period knitwear for film or theatre sounds interesting, but with so many projects and interests that likely won’t happen for several years.