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Melissa Jeanne Schlachtmeyer, Faculty

A picture of Melissa Schlachtmeyer

Melissa Schlachtmeyer, assistant professor of theatre [2012–14], August 6, 2014, while traveling in Florence, Italy, of complications from cancer.

Prof. Melissa Schlachtmeyer was a beloved and valued teacher, mentor, colleague, designer, daughter, sister, mother, wife, and friend. She was a broad-based costume designer whose designs were selected for opera, dance, and theatre productions in the U.S., France, Germany, Hungary, and Mexico. She enjoyed working with physical performers and the tribal nature of clothing, and she was a nominee for a Henry Hewes Design Award. In an interview with the Brooklyn Rail in December 2011, Prof. Schlachtmeyer said, “When faced with a script, my first question is the same question a director or any other theatre artist would ask, which is where this piece lives: in the head or the heart, in the tragedy or black comedy, in social satire or in empathy?”

Schlachtmeyer earned degrees from Brown University and the Tisch School of the Arts and taught classes in design at Fordham University; she designed for several universities, colleges, and graduate programs. She joined the Reed theatre faculty in 2012 as an assistant professor and was instrumental in the revamping of the costume-design program. She contributed her insight and expertise in theatre design, the history of clothing, and costume design to the curriculum and to designing spaces in the Performing Arts Building. Survivors include her husband, composer Jonathan Newman; their daughter Amelia; parents Sandra and Al Schlachtmeyer; and sister Laura.

In remembrance, her family suggests donations to the Melissa Schlachtmeyer Fund for Design at the Tisch School of the Arts (Attn: Andrew Uriarte, New York University, 721 Broadway FL 12, New York NY 10003; donations payable to New York University; to benefit emerging stage and film designers); Studio 42 (the theatre company closest to her heart and career), 332 Bleecker Street STE E48, New York NY 10014; and the Tucker-Maxon School, 2860 SE Holgate Boulevard, Portland OR 97202 (to benefit the remarkable school for hearing-impaired and typically learning children, where her daughter, now 7, has been safe, happy, and thriving for 2 years).

Appeared in Reed magazine: December 2014

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