Karen earned her MFA in Costume, Makeup, and Mask Design from Michigan State University in 1982. After working in numerous theatre companies from Nebraska to Maine, she joined Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia as costume shop supervisor and resident costume designer working full time for them for many years. She still maintains a working relationship with Barter Theatre as a freelance designer and to date has designed well over 50 shows for the company, including her most recent work Southern Fried Nuptials.
Her first textbook, co-authored with Melissa Shafer, titled Fundamentals of Theatrical Design: A Guide to the Basics of Scenic, Costume, and Lighting Design was published by Allworth Press in 2011. Brewster and Shafer are now working on their second book titled Theatrical Genre and Style: A Guide for Designers, Directors, and Performers, also by Allworth Press and due to be published in 2017.
Karen Brewster serves the ETSU Department of Communication and Performance as Associate Chair, and the Division of Theatre & Dance as resident costume designer and costume shop supervisor. She teaches courses in Theatrical Design (Basic and Costume), Stagecraft, Stage Makeup and Theatre History. An ETSU faculty member since 2000, Karen has designed scores of ETSU productions including the Kennedy Center American College Theatre National Finalist production of Hear That Whistle Blow, Erwin Train a Comin’.
Veteran theater designers Karen Brewster and Melissa Shafer have consulted with a broad range of seasoned theater industry professionals to provide an exhaustive guide full of sound advice and insight. With clear examples and hands-on exercises, Fundamentals of Theatrical Design illustrates the way in which the three major areas of theatrical design—scenery, costumes, and lighting—are intrinsically linked. Attractively priced for use as a classroom text, this is a comprehensive resource for all levels of designers and directors.
Has the power to inspire as well as inform, and college theater departments that don't adopt it as part of their book lists are missing out on a real treasure.
Focusing on the analytical, intellectual, and artistic 'how and why' of the design process, Brewster and Shafer have written a wonderful, insightful text for young designers--in fact, for all collaborative artists. I've been hoping for a design text of this caliber for a long time
This text is a clearly presented, thorough introduction to scenic, costume, and lighting design. It is a useful tool for educators and a guide for early designers through basic research methods, design skills, and navigating the production process. Offers an insight to the language and culture of theatrical design that would benefit any early designer
An excellent text for beginning theater students no matter what their interest(s) might be. It will be of benefit to serious high school drama programs as well as college theater programs. Several things make this book outstanding, especially the superb practical exercises at the end of each chapter, which teach needed skills in a way that is interesting and accessible to the student no matter the level. The appendices will also be extremely valuable to novice design students.