Campaign update

Moyse Hall gets professional costume workshop

Spring sunlight streams through the huge windows of the Moyse Hall Costume Workshop, officially opened on March 29. Dotted about the spacious room are half-dressed mannequins, hatstands, costume sketches, cutting tables, sewing machines, and baskets and boxes of materials waiting to be made into costumes and props. An apprentice designer is busy turning window screen into a lace skirt while a student actor is fitted for an elaborate period costume.

Visitors would never guess that the 900-square-foot space originally resembled an underground parking garage. Catherine Bradley, wardrobe manager and costume designer for the Drama and Theatre Program in the Department of English, shudders to recall the makeshift conditions that used to prevail behind the scenes at Moyse Hall.

The transformation was made possible by a $200,000 gift from Mrs. W.P. (Billie) Wilder, BA'51. Bradley, who has worked at the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, the National Arts Centre, Centaur Theatre and l'Opéra de Montréal, takes great pride in the state-of-the-art costume facility. "We work with students, but the standards are entirely professional." Two major productions and several smaller shows are mounted at Moyse Hall every year.

The workshop has actually been in use since the spring of 1995. Bradley, who worked with the architects on the project for about a year, knew from experience what didn't work elsewhere. She had learned, for example, that the dye room needed to have proper ventilation and drying space, so those features were built in from the start.

Only neutral colours were used to decorate the workshop, so that the palette for each show remains true, without distraction from the background.

Down the hall is the dye room, with a 60-gallon industrial soup kettle in which 50 yards of fabric can be dyed at a time and stirred with a specially built paddle. Beyond that is the costume storage room.

Bradley says with pride that the workshop has become "a community resource. When other theatres call us with a request to borrow costumes, we can reciprocate now."

Next summer, Repercussion Theatre and Festival McGill will take advantage of the new facilities. And for the McGill 175 festivities, the workshop outfitted "James McGill," who appeared in a recycled costume, last worn by Prospero in a recent production of The Tempest.

Hannah Institute helps McGill maintain leadership in history of medicine

Medicine, McGill's very first faculty, has remained a great source of pride over the years. Research funding awarded to the Faculty of Medicine has quadrupled over the past decade, and the number of endowed chairs has more than tripled.

A recent grant of $500,000 over five years from the Hannah Institute for the History of Medicine in Toronto will enable the discipline of the history of medicine to survive and thrive at McGill, says Dr. Don Bates, holder of the Cotton Chair in the History of Medicine, which will be renamed in the near future to reflect this generous gift.

"This gift will help us maintain teaching and research programs in the face of financial setbacks," says Dr. Bates. "And it's coming on-line just before the thirtieth anniversary of the department on July 1, 1996."

Dr. Bates was the founder of the Department of Social Studies of Medicine. Initial funding came from a bequest from the estate of Dr. Thomas F. Cotton, who died in 1965, leaving money to McGill's medical faculty on the understanding that it would be used for the study of medical history.

The Department has three disciplines: history, sociology and anthropology of medicine. Courses are given at the Faculty of Arts as well as the Faculty of Medicine. "We have a strong graduate program in all three disciplines, and a strong undergraduate program, too," says Dr. Bates. "It's unique in North America, except for something similar at Harvard."

Dr. Bates's primary research interest is 16th and 17th century England. His book, Knowledge and the Scholarly Medical Traditions, was published by Cambridge University Press in 1995. He is now working on a project about William Harvey and the circulation of the blood.