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National Theatre Recognition

Twins Christopher and Justin Swader, ’12, theatre production and theatre design and technology majors, were 2011 winners at the national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Washington, DC. They brought home the 2011 Barbizon National Award in Scenic Design in recognition of their stage design work for a 2010 university production of Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches. The play had a complex stage design that reflected how the characters’ world was crumbling around them. Elements served dual purposes: columns became trees in Central Park, and debris shifted into Antarctic glaciers.

 The Circus in Winter

“They were competing against some of the best students from some of the top graduate programs in the country—and they’re undergraduates,” says Kip Shawger, assistant professor of theatre and award-winning stage designer. “To win this award as juniors is an extraordinary accomplishment.”

The Swaders’ honor marks the second time in three years Ball State has had a national winner at the competition. They also crafted the sets for The Circus in Winter, which was featured in the 2012 Region III Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in January.

And 2012 is the eighth year in a row at least one of the university’s most talented theatre and design students has been named a national qualifier of the Kennedy Center competition.

“These types of awards illustrate the visibility of our program on a national scale,” says Bill Jenkins, department chair and associate professor of musical theatre, directing, and acting.