Gerilyn Tandberg is the woman behind the mask—literally. A costume designer and theater educator with more than four decades of experience, she is passionate about making sure actors and actresses look and feel their part before the curtain rises. Her combination of interests and knowledge, particularly history and theater, enabled her to ensure that the garments she selected were accurate and made her an invaluable asset behind the scenes. Although Dr. Tandberg has since retired, she is noted for her time as a costume designer and historian for the theater department at Louisiana State University between 1973 and 2009, and as an assistant professor at Minot State University between 1966 and 1973. She is proud that her work allowed generations of young performers to shine.
In addition to her academic pursuits, Dr. Tandberg loved being active in her community and field, and made every effort to connect with her peers. Over the years, she has lent her talents to more than 100 plays, musicals and operas. She spent three years as the vice president and board member of the Costume Society of America, for which she also served as the board director and co-chair of the Region 6 Conference, and four years as the state chair for the American College Theatre Festival through the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Further, Dr. Tandberg was a costume consultant for a variety of films between 1975 and 2000, and was a reviewer for “Dress: The Journal of the Costume Society of America,” between 1991 and 2003. From 1980 to 2006, she garnered experience as a public relations officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary.
Dr. Tandberg prepared for her career by earning a PhD in theater arts and a Master of Arts from the University of Minnesota in 1973 and 1969, respectively, and three Bachelor of Science degrees in English, French and education from Minot State University in 1963. She furthered her education by completing postgraduate work at The Courtauld Institute of Art, California State University Long Beach, the University of Texas at Austin, Louisiana State University, and Central Saint Martins, the University of the Arts London.
As a testament to her hard work and dedication, Dr. Tandberg has received a number of accolades. She was honored with the Outstanding Service Citation from the Southwest Theatre Association and the Gold Medallion from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and was proud to be a grantee of The Student Technology Fee and the Manship Foundation. She was also featured in 10 editions of Who’s Who in America, eight of Who’s Who in the World, and two of Who’s Who of American Women. Dr. Tandberg attributes her success and longevity to her ability to completely immerse herself in her work.
A former student, Simone C. Willie, writes:
I would like to formally thank Dr. Tandberg for her encouragement and belief in me as an undergraduate during my time as her student from 1992-1995 at LSU. She recognized many of us in the department and mentored us. The opportunities she gave me as student assistant costume designer and student costume designer in the Department of Theatre and Dance at LSU helped me build a portfolio with which to apply to grad schools. I received my MFA in Theatrical Design with concentration in costumes from the University of Texas at Austin in 1998. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Dr. Gerilyn Tandberg. I wouldn’t be where I am today without you.