Melissa Leigh Gilbert

Originally from Bullhead City, Arizona, Melissa Leigh Gilbert (she|her) has spent the past decade+ working in Theater Arts and Education but a lifetime of pursuing the arts as they relate to the human experience.  Her work as designer, artisan, and educator has spanned numerous genres, disciplines, and locations.


With Theatre as her primary medium and Costume Design the dominant focus of her career the arc of her work and her design philosophies reflect her Liberal Arts education at Randolph-Macon Woman's College where she received her BFA. While completing her MFA at the University of Iowa she was able to expand her repertoire to include Scenic Art and Design.  Both institutions allowed her the opportunity to work abroad in England. In undergrad Melissa studied at the University of Reading as part of the 'World in Britain' program. while in graduate school she returned for a research project which included a tailoring course at the Arts University Bournemouth and worked with Mahogany on costumes for Notting Hill Carnival

With a personal and pedagogical emphasis on process and analysis Melissa casts a wide net in regards to her research and influences but relishes the opportunity to edit with collaborators. Melissa maintains a firm belief that one's first idea is never one's best and can always be improved through collaboration, critique, and experimentation.  As an educator she encourages experiential learning and a multitude of failures during the process; both for students and herself.  Melissa is an avid proponent of the Liz Lerman Critical Response Technique, not only in her curriculum but throughout her own creative process.

Melissa is currently the Wardrobe Supervisor and Costume Shop Associate at the Olney Theatre Center where she also serves on the

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.  She enjoys baking bread, making pickles, hiking, water aerobics, and spending time with her Cat, Blake The Shake-Gilbert. 


You can also book her for Ghost Tours in Georgetown.


MFA  |  The University of Iowa

Costume + Scenic Design


BFA  |  Randolph-Macon Woman's College

Costume + Lighting Design

Concentration in British Literature

World in Britain Study Abroad Program

Tailoring Workshop   |  Arts University Bournemouth

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The University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Interim Assistant Professor of Theatre Design and Technology

Costume & Scene Shop Supervisor

Adjunct Instructor

South Louisiana Community College

Adjunct Instructor

Shawnee Summer Theatre

Costume Designer  |  Shop Manager

The Univeristy of Iowa

Graduate Design Assistant

Stitcher  |  Wardrobe Associate  |  Scenic Artist



Long Term Sub Spring 2021

  • Acting II

  • Stagecraft II



  • THEA 2205: Costume and Makeup Design  1 semester



  • THEA 375: Stage Management  1 semester

  • THEA 352: Scenic Design for the Stage  1 Semester

  • THEA 351: Lighting for the Stage  1 Semester

  • THEA 251: Stagecraft  2 semester

  • THEA 161: Introduction to Theatre, online  4 semesters

  • UNIV 100: Your First Semester Through the Eyes of a Puppet  
    2 semesters

  • THEA 313: Adv. Topics: Scenic Painting  1 semester

  • Shop Supervisor: Theatre 333 Workshop, Theatre 254 Costume Tech
    4 Semesters    

    • 18 productions



  • THEA 1010 Introduction to Theatre  3 semesters

  • THEA 2010 Introduction to Acting  1 semester 


Olney Theatre Center

Wardrobe Supervisor and Costume Shop Associate


Professional Development

  • Statera Mentee Cohort 2020

  • CPR/First Aid Certification

  • Project Allies: LGBTQIA Ally Training

  • ULearn Online Teaching Certification 

  • Developing an Effective Syllabus

  • Designing Assignments for
    First-Year Students

  • Classroom management 101

  • Beyond the Lecture: Active
    Learning Strategies

  • The Impact of Unconscious Bias on
    Student Success

Research + Community Engagement

  • Climate Change Theatre Action 

    • Paradise Drowned Design + TD​

  • Scenic Painting Workshops​  |  5th Grade

    • Episcopal School of Acadiana​

  • Notting Hill Carnival​

    • Section Leader | Costume Construction​

  • Iowa City Carnaval

    • Costume Construction​

  • Kidney Man Mascot​

    • Design + Construction​

Grant Writing + Fellowships

SPARK   |  $4,000

UL Lafayette | Co-Investigator

ArTech Fusion  | $2,000

UL Lafayette  |  Co-Investigator

Obermann Institute | $500

U Iowa  |  Public Engagement Fellow

Stanley Graduate Award  |  $2,500
U Iowa  | Research Funding

SIF Career Development   |  $3,000

U Iowa  |  Research Funding

Margaret Hall Study Abroad  |  $3,500

U Iowa  |  Research Funding


  • Patterning and draping, experience in tailoring, Mask and puppet making, Crafting, Distressing, Dying, Ventilating in a pinch, Stage makeup, Domestic/industrial sewing machines and sergers, soldering,  

  •  Props construction, Set construction, Scenic Painting, Floral arrangements, Photography,  

  •  Dance Training, Critical Response Technique workshop led by Liz Lerman, can read music

  • Microsoft Office, Working Knowledge: Photoshop (through CS7 and CC), SketchUp, Bridge, Illustrator, InDesign, Vectorworks

  • Valid MD Driver's License; Owns car; can drive Manual Transmission