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SMC student wins design competition

Alicia Smith | Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Saint Mary’s junior Elizabeth Carian placed first in a regional costume design competition on Jan. 8.

According to Carian, 18 students and two faculty members of the Theatre Department at Saint Mary’s College, traveled to Michigan State University to take part in the American College Theatre Festival, a six-day event designed to educate students through participative learning.

The festival was held from Jan. 4 to Jan. 9.

“[The festival is] a huge conglomeration of theatre people who are enjoying each other’s company, learning from each other immensely and seeing what we’ve done over the year,” Carian said. “It’s kind of like a celebration of it.”

At the festival, Carian entered a competition called the Regional Paper Project, where undergraduate and graduate students designed costumes on paper.

“If [the contestants] had an unlimited budget, what would they design? What would they show to the director? Basically it’s grunt portfolio work,” Carian said.

Each contestant took his or her design and placed it on a foam panel for judging.

Carian said two judges examine each display without the contestants. Then, she said contestants are assigned times when the judges will return to each display. Each contestant has one minute to explain his or her design to the judges. The judges will then ask questions and relay feedback for four minutes.

“They tell you what they think,” Carian said. “It’s completely invaluable. It’s amazing because these are professionals in the field that are telling you what they think about your work. These are directors and costume designers, so you get both sides of the story.”

After the preliminary round of the competition, Carian said she had to wait for the results. Twenty finalists were chosen, and each competitor presented during another round with two new judges and one returning judge.

According to Carian, the final round was similar to the preliminary round; each contestant had one minute to explain his or her work. However, in the final round judges had 14 minutes of response time.

Carian also said the judges took copious notes in the final round.

The winners of the competition were announced at the award ceremony on Jan. 8.

Carian said she felt “disbelief” when she heard she had placed first at the ceremony.

“We’ve been going to this festival for 44 years and we’ve never had anybody win anything,” Carian said.

Carian was the recipient of the award, and received a $100 check, a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble and a membership into a technical organization where she will be able to attend other theatre competitions free of cost.

“The competitions give you prestige so that when you go into a graduate program or if you go into a job interview you can have it on your resume and say, ‘look what I did’ and it means something,” Carian said. “It really does.”