When “Rebecca” Jiaqi Chen ’17 started at Pomona College, she did not have any experience with the theatre arts. That changed after she took a costume design course her first year at Pomona where she was involved in a few productions as a costume crew member. Today, she’s wrapping up her senior project based on the upcoming play Trojan Women: A Love Storythat explores coping with the ravages of war and a potential feminist utopia on the horizon, opening Thursday, April 6 at the Seaver Theatre.

“It was a brilliant group of people, who gave me love and a strong sense of belonging at that time, even though I was often shy and quiet,” says Chen of that costume design class. “Then I kept on taking theatre classes until I figured it was becoming my major.”

In the past four years, Chen has worked as costume crew member, make-up crew member, scene shop assistant, costume shop assistant, student lighting designer for various department productions and dance shows.

Rebecca Jiaqi Chen looks up from between rows of clothing.

“I love how interdisciplinary and inspiring theatre can be. I have just started my exploration in this field. The more I learn about it, the less I realize I know about it.”

For her senior project, Chen says she did research and script analysis for Trojan Women: A Love Story to be able to create costume designs, including make-up and hair, for the characters.

“I started from reading the script and other relevant works, like Trojan Women by Euripides. There were designer references in Charles L. Mee's original script, so I had those designers in mind while creating costume sketches,” she says. “Then I communicated back and forth with the director, my academic advisor (costume design professor), costume shop manager and other designers to finalize the looks.”

She also says that during shopping trips for fabric and during the costume construction period for this and other productions, she often gets inspired or makes accommodations. 

And with Trojan Women, Chen has a lot of room for her own inspiration as the play is part of playwright Mee’s “(re)making project,” where he shares full texts of his works and invites others to rework them.

After graduation, Chen plans to return to her native China where she will be working for a regional theatre company which introduces performances from North America to young audiences in China.

“Entertainment and cultural arts is one of the rising industries in China nowadays, as people have more time and money to spend on recreation. I was not exposed to theatre arts until college, but hopefully I can share my joy with younger friends.”

Performances of Trojan Women: A Love Story, directed by Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance Joyce Lu, will be held at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 6 through Saturday, April 8, and 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 8 and Sunday April 9 at Seaver Theatre (300 E. Bonita Ave., Claremont). Tickets are $11 general admission and $6 for students, faculty, staff and seniors.