Ball State sends students to national Kennedy Center festival for seventh year in a row

Topic: College of Fine Arts

March 21, 2011

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Set designs from Ball State~~~s production of "Angels in America, Part One: Millenium Approaches". Students Christopher and Justin Swader will attend the national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in recognition of their scenic design work on the production.
The expressionistic designs of two talented Ball State University theater students have earned both a spot in the national Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) in April. This is the seventh year in a row that the Department of Theatre and Dance will send some of its best student talent to the competition.

Identical twin brothers Christopher and Justin Swader were recognized with the Barbizon Award for Theatrical Design Excellence in Scenic Design for their set work on "Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches" at one of KCACTF's eight regional festival showcases earlier this year. Students with the best and most diverse productions are selected to have their work showcased at the national festival April 18-23 in Washington, D.C.

Christopher Swader said it is often difficult to explain his and Justin's design process to others. "A lot of people always ask us, 'Who did what?' and by the time we step back and look at everything, it is hard to separate our individual contributions," he said. "When one of us has an idea, it is not long before the other is on the same page and can take it one step further."

The Swader brothers spent last summer with the "Angels" director and other designers, sketching and finalizing the overall look for the set of the show, which they then submitted to KCACTF. "We were really attracted to the play because of its unique technical challenges — more than 20 different locations and an angel crashing through the ceiling at the end," Justin Swader explained. The show was the first of the 2010-2011 theater lineup in the university's Department of Theatre and Dance.

During their coming week in the nation's capital, the Swaders, juniors majoring in directing and design/technology, will take theater workshops and participate in a competition with the other seven KCACTF regional winners in their category. The two received honorable mentions in the 2010 KCACTF national scenic design competition and said they hope to continue collaborating on projects in the future.

The national Kennedy Center festival allows students from across the country to see one another's work and share experiences and insights in the community of theater artists.

"The department continues to be very proud of the work our students do and the recognition they receive on a consistent basis from the Kennedy Center," said Bill Jenkins, department chair. "We believe these types of awards illuminate the visibility of our program on a national scale."

The KCACTF honors excellence in production and recognizes individual student achievement through awards and scholarships in playwriting, acting, criticism, direction and design.

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