School of Theatre, Film & Television

When the pandemic hit, Arizona MFA theatre students and costume designers immediately began making masks for healthcare workers and first responders in Tucson to address the shortage of masks.

A group of students in the University of Arizona School of Theatre, Film & Television is doing its part to address the shortage of masks for health care workers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Master of Fine Arts students Rachel WilkinsElizabeth Eaton and Ryan B. Moore are working on the initiative alongside Maryan Trombino-Arthur, manager of the school’s Costume Shop.

The group has provided masks to a local hospital and also has been contacted by the Pima County Sheriff’s Department and the Tucson Police Department Emergency Response Team, as well as multiple assisted living communities, veterinarian’s offices and others with requests for masks.

Wilkins says the effort has allowed her not to feel “utterly helpless” during a time of crisis.

“Finding out that I can help those who actually can do something was an enormous relief and has given me a renewed purpose,” Wilkins said. “The skills I have learned through my years of school have given me the tools I need to make these masks, and donating them lets us show those combating COVID-19 that we are thankful to help them in any way we can.”

Rachel Wilkins in front of a sewing machine wearing a mask and holding another
Master of Fine Arts student Rachel Wilkins models one of the dual-layer masks that she and her fellow students are making.

Wilkins says the team is making “shell-style” masks that have dual layers, allowing users to fit them over surgical masks or N95 respirators.

The team is also working on a tutorial on making the masks, in hopes that others can make and donate them as well.

“I could not be more proud of our students and faculty for contributing their time and talent to address this critical need,” said Hank Stratton, artistic director of the Arizona Repertory Theatre in the School of Theatre, Film & Television. “We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our community in a time of crisis, and hope we can set the stage for others to do the same.”

This story originally appeared in UArizona News.