Wanda Walden -Costume Designer Extraordinaire
Debuted Tues 3/09/21 for the inaugural podcast on ArtsWatch!
Dmae talks with veteran costume designer Wanda Walden, the Portland- and Oakland, California-based actor, visual artist, writer, and in-demand costume designer, who had an astonishing fourteen shows lined up in Portland for 2020 before the pandemic shut productions down. Since the 1980s Walden, who grew up in Portland after moving here from Chicago at age 11 in the 1960s and began her career as a theater costume designer with the pioneering Black theater company PassinArt: A Theatre Company, has designed for most of the city’s leading theater companies. She about her history in working with artists to develop Black theatre in Portland. Most recently she costumed Martha Bakes at Vanport Mosaic from afar locating a revolutionary war era dress in her collection. Walden spoke from her studio in Oakland.
Theme Music: Clark Salisbury
Wanda Walden is an actress, writer, visual artist and Portland’s veteran costume designer. er passion for collecting and wearing vintage clothing led her to start Retro-Spect: A Theatrical Modeling company in 1981. Michael Grant co-founder (along with Connie Carly) of Passinart Theater established in 1982, asked her to costume The Resurrection of Lady Lester by Oyama (Charles F Gordon) at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center in 1986. That was followed by costume designing Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom by August Wilson in 1987 for Storefront Theater. In the 80s and 90s, Walden also worked as an actor. She was cast as Dussie Mae and (also costumed) for Ceremonies in Dark Old Men by Lonnie Elder III. More recently, she received the 2019 Drammy Award for her outstanding body of work during the theatre season. She is the resident costumer for PassinArt: A Theatre Company, where her credits include The No Play, Hazardous Beauty, Black Nativity, Two Trains Running, Repulsing the Monkey, The Gospel of Loving Kindness, and Smoldering Fires. Other Portland area credits include Crowns and How I Learned What I Learned (Portland Playhouse); Fires in the Mirror and The Secretaries (Profile Theatre); It’s a Wonderful Life, Skeleton Crew, An Octoroon, and We Are Proud to Present…(Artists Repertory Theatre). In addition her costume designs, Wanda’s visual art was presented in association with And in This Corner: Cassius Clay (Oregon Children’s Theatre); Left Hook, American Summer Squash, Hercules Didn’t Wade in the Water, and Cottonwood in the Flood (Vanport Mosaic).