April 16, 2020

With the cancellation of the Susquehanna’s Spring 2020 theater season, costumer Elizabeth Ennis is putting her sewing skills to utilitarian use.

Ennis is using fabric scraps from past Susquehanna stage productions to sew protective masks for the university’s Health Center and others in need in defense against the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“I’m not alone in doing this,” she said. “Costume shops and fashion houses all over the country are stepping in.”

Using costume leftovers from shows like Pippin, She Stoops to Conquer and Silent Sky, Ennis has sewn approximately 200 masks so far using her grandmother’s vintage 1948 Singer Featherweight sewing machine.

Susquehanna announced in March that it would transition to online instruction for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“If this weren’t happening right now, we’d be getting ready for our spring production of Seeds, which was supposed to be designed by the students in my costume design class,” Ennis said.

Ennis has even made a trivia game of her new hobby, posting pictures of her masks to social media and asking her students to “guess that show” based on the material of the mask.

It’s allowed her to add a little levity to a less than desirable situation.

“It is tough,” Ennis said. “Theater people, a lot of us are social and collaborative by nature. Not having that face-to-face interaction is hard, but we’re all finding ways to keep that sense of community.”

In addition to making their best guesses as to what show Ennis’ mask material is from, SU theater students are also posting videos of themselves performing monologues to the department’s Facebook page. Take a virtual front-row seat here.