Ailsa Stevenson ’11: First-Time Producer, Long-Time Costumer for MFS Theater Productions

As producer of this year’s winter play production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), Ailsa Stevenson ’11 was responsible for facilitating all the behind-the-scenes organization to make rehearsals and the show run smoothly. Those duties included organizing dinners for the 80 students in the cast and crew during Tech Week, coordinating the design of the posters and cast and crew t-shirts, managing ticket sales and promotion, and setting up concessions and the ushers at the beginning of the performances. Plus, Ailsa was a lead costumer, designing and sewing the Elizabethan costumes for Shakespeare.

“My job is to facilitate all these tasks that need to be done so the director can solely focus on the production,” said Ailsa. “Apart from when I was in college, I have been a costumer for nearly all the MFS shows since my sophomore year of high school so, aside from [lead costumer] Kiyo Moriuchi ’71, Arts Department Chair Brian Howard, and Art Teacher Nicole Edmund, I’ve been involved with the theater department the longest. Just from being around, I knew what needed to get done so it made sense for me to step up and be the producer.”

As Ailsa recalls, it was just happenstance that she became a veteran of the costume department. Her older sister Lindsay Stevenson ’09 was a costumer and Ailsa would be waiting for her to drive her home. Kiyo asked her if she knew how to iron, and “I was roped into work!”

The first show she costumed for in the fall of 2008, Cabaret, was already one of her favorite musicals and she loved creating the costumes for it as well. When she wasn’t in the Green Room sewing as a student, she was either in the dark room developing her photography or involved in sports – field hockey, basketball, or golf. Ailsa was also an Original, enrolling at MFS in kindergarten.

After MFS, Ailsa went on to study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she earned her B.F.A., primarily focusing on photography but also working in metalsmithing and printmaking. Since graduating in 2015, she has worn multiple hats — an entrepreneur with a jewelry business that sells in markets and an online Etsy shop, a Youth Art Fellow and photography teacher at Peters Valley School of Craft in North Jersey, and a customer service associate at a local bagel shop. At MFS, she has acted as a costuming instructor for Intensive Learning workshops and substitute teacher in addition to her costume work in Anything Goes, To Kill A Mockingbird, Wizard of Oz, Charlie Brown, Shakespeare, and the upcoming A Year with Frog and Toad.

After months of dedicated work, Ailsa is greatly looking forward to opening night of Shakespeare.

“It’s such a marathon, but my favorite part of the production is the anticipation of waiting for the curtain to rise on opening night,” said Ailsa. “I feel so confident that the show will go well but also nervous that it may not! But that’s one of the great aspects of live theater.”