Theatre: CSU Theatre Graduate Wins National Lighting Award

KCACTF 1Colorado State University theatre alum Meghan Gray (’10) won the Barbizon Award for Theatrical Design Excellence in Lighting at the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival in Washington, DC on April 23, 2011. Gray is currently a master electrician for the CSU Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance.

The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) is a national theater program with over 18,000 participants annually, and serves as a catalyst to improve the quality of college theater in the United States.

According to the KCACTF website, “The purpose of the Barbizon Awards for Theatrical Design Excellence is to provide student designers with feedback from professionals working in the field; to give outstanding student designers national recognition; and to provide the opportunity for student designers to exhibit their work at the Kennedy Center. Designs will be appraised on the basis of quality, effectiveness, originality, and rendering techniques.”

The national level award includes full tuition and expenses paid to attend the Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas, specializing in hands-on training for cutting-edge, live entertainment technology, as well as a paid trip to the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space, the world’s largest performance design event, held June 16-26, 2011 in the Czech Republic.

The competition in DC was a week-long submersion in theatrical design. “We brainstormed, implemented, and talked design and theater from 8 a.m. to midnight daily,” said Gray. For the final round of competition, interpretations of the same scene from Naomi Iizuka's Language of Angels were designed and presented by all eight finalists. “Winning was a completely unexpected surprise,” said Gray, “There were many talented people there.”

Gray became eligible for the national contest by winning Best Lighting Design for her design for the CSU production of Polaroid Stories by Naomi Iizuka at the regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, held in Arcata, Cali. Feb. 14 – 18, 2011.

“Polaroid Stories was one of my favorite projects as a student because it gave me more creative freedom than any other design I'd taken on,” said Gray. “My goal was to make the lighting an experience – not an unnoticeable element – for the audience and performers as well.” Gray also received a sound design award at the 2009 KCACTF regional competition.

Senior Luke Peckinpaugh (CSU ’11) also competed at the national festival. Peckinpaugh won the coveted Irene Ryan Acting Award out of 408 actors, at the 2011 Regional KCACTF. His competition partner was Jeff Garland (CSU '12).

“Our students represent the future of American theatre and we are always very proud to share their talents with the nation at the Kennedy Center,” said Walt Jones, director of theatre at CSU. “We have sent regional winners to the national competition for the last four years, which is as rewarding for us as it is for them. When a student wins, it makes it all the sweeter."

Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival 2012
Colorado State University will host the 2012 regional KCACTF on Feb. 13 – 18. Over 1,200 participants are expected to attend the weeklong event being held at the University Center for the Arts and the Hilton Hotel.