The Rose is once again thrilled to participate in the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) program, the Ready to Design Awards (previously known as the Ready to Work Awards). This program helps talented young designers jumpstart their professional careers. Designers are chosen from all graduate-level entrants to SETC’s annual Design Competition at the SETC Convention. There are no additional application forms or fees. Awards are based on design style and each company’s upcoming productions.
2018 will mark The Rose’s fourth year of partnering with SETC. In 2015, Lighting Designer Katie Gruenhagen of Indiana University lent her skills to The Rose’s production of Elephant & Piggie: We Are in a Play, and during the 2016-17 season, Scenic Designer Bridgette Dreher’s (also of Indiana University) work was featured in The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. This season, the work of Scenic Designer Nevena Prodanovic of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville will be featured on The Rose stage.
In an interview, Rose Artistic Director Matthew Gutschick explained what he looks for as he evaluates entries in the SETC Design Competition.
“I am looking for unexpected choices and evidence of an iterative process. We enjoy witnessing a designer’s ability to navigate a design through multiple, and sometimes bold, refinements until it makes its way to the stage. We are particularly impressed with designs that are non-representational and aesthetically whole. The determining factor in our decision is always the interview, which helps us assess the potential tone and natural fit of our collaboration with the designer,” he said.
He continued praising the work of these graduate-level designers. “Young designers are often free from habitual choices, meaning they generally come to work with an openness to risk and failure that is thrilling. This is one of many reasons why we look for evidence of a designer who is comfortable in a truly iterative process. This upcoming generation of designers, largely due to the advances in technology, are able to spin off on ideas with rapidity and specificity. They are also often able to mine subtext in exciting ways that give designs a sense of tension.”
It is The Rose’s hope that designers find their experience at the theater rewarding and fulfilling. “Our theatre often gives designers their first experience making professional work for family audiences. The thrill and immediacy of our audience’s vocal responses to the work onstage is a source of instant gratification for designers,” Gutschick said.
“We are one of the largest theatre companies for young audiences, which means our team is able to support a designer’s fullest vision for a piece. Our work environment is playful and focused. Everyone here cares on a personal level about the mission of our company. Designers often find creative fuel in this environment.”