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On Campus: Space Invaders

B80 Center for the Arts, North Campus

The office of Donna Massimo, costume shop manager

Donna Massimo

Interview by Michael Flatt

Donna Massimo (MA ’90, BFA ’75) has a story for every one of the knickknacks and oddities in her office—paraphernalia accrued over the course of three decades in the costume shop for UB’s Department of Theatre and Dance. “If you ask a question, you’ll get far too many answers from me,” she jokes. Here, she shares some of her favorite conversation starters.

The office of Donna Massimo, costume shop manager

The office of Donna Massimo (MA ’90, BFA ’75), costume shop manager. Photo: Douglas Levere

A - Intercom box

I think when they designed these spaces, they didn’t know how they were going to be used; they thought I was going to be sitting in my office during a rehearsal, as opposed to sitting in the theater watching it. The intercoms might be ready to go, but we’ve never used them.

B - Blue screen material

That was for [theater producer] Doug Fitch’s production here last year. We were matching a color for unitards for this particular dance sequence. I also had makeup mixed to match it from crylon. The blue is the blue they use as the backdrop when you’re shooting a movie scene for CGI.

C - Puppet

This is a gift from [former UB theater professor] Sarah Bay-Cheng. I was a printmaking major, and one of my friends had done a canvas print of Gertrude Stein. I decided to make a doll out of it. So when I met Sarah, I said, “I have something I think you’ll enjoy.” When she was leaving, she gave me this Indonesian puppet in return.

D - Rogovin Photograph

I first met the late Milton Rogovin (MA ’72) when I was in my 20s. He photographed miners, workers at Bethlehem Steel, people on the West Side. The Smithsonian has all his stuff now. He came to me one day and said, “Do you know punk people?” And I knew one, Dotson, a brilliant cutter-draper. All his clothes were assembled with safety pins. This is Joey, his partner, who was a florist. Milton thought this was awesome, but the punk thing didn’t really work out for him, so it was a very small series.

E - Apron costume

This was a bedspread that I cut and sewed into a working person’s apron. It has this weird texture and this dead color. It’s in every show that has peasants. I once put a brocade collar on it for the fool in “King Lear.” I probably use it once every two or three semesters. I pull it out and say, “How about this?”