Region 5 KCACTF and The Design/Tech/Management Expo.

KCACTF Region 5’s annual Festival is over for 2011.  Plans are to hold the festival in Ames at Iowa State University once again next year.  Aside from running the Stage Crew Showdown (described in the preceding post) I attended several plays from schools from the region (restaged for the festival at the festival venues), went to several workshops taught by my colleagues to region students and faculty, and assisted my students (mostly as moral support by the time of the festival) in presenting their design and technical projects at in the design and technical exposition.

The exposition, “The Design, Technologies & Management Expo.” is a tremendous opportunity for students at participating colleges to share their work with students and faculty from the entire region.  Students having designed scenery, costumes, lighting, sound, props and other materials for productions, or having produced like materials for theoretical projects, distill their process and create a visual display of their materials.  In region 5 they are restricted to a 4’ x 4’ space (they may also use a table or a music stand for models, notebooks and the like).    The display was in the lobby of the Scheman building on the Iowa State University campus.  For many years, the region has created display panels by joining a hundred or more 4’ x 8’ panels of homasote in several zigzag pattern rows (creating up to four 4’ x 4’ display spaces per panel).  This year, I understand that there were close to 50 more entries than ever before.    This meant that many panels hosted the full compliment of 4 displays each.

The 2011 Region 5 KCACTF Design, Tech & Management Expo

While KCACTF wishes to emphasize the participation in the Expo. as far more important than the competition aspect, projects of exceptional quality are nominated for special recognition. One Project in each of several design areas that were attached to plays entered as “Associate” or “Participating” productions is invited to participate in the national festival (along with projects from each of the other seven regions).  One  “first” and one “second place” are awarded to projects attached to non-participating plays, projects, and in areas that don’t have national recognition. The regional “winners” are posted on the region 5 web site: http://www.kcactf5.org/KCACTF5.ORG/Home.html

These displays are available for viewing by festival participants (and anyone else passing through the building for that matter).  On Thursday of festival, respondents from other regions and professionals, spoke to each student about their display and about the work that it represented.  This exercise is one of the most valuable activities that students engage in during the festival.  They get structured response from knowledgeable accomplished industry practitioners.  Frequently this feedback reinforces information that students have already received from their faculty.  Sometimes they receive a totally fresh perspective.  Always, students have the opportunity to learn and grow in their art.

I normally like to accompany students while they are receiving their 5-minute response.  I believe that it is important for me to be there and hear what they hear so that I can gauge the efficacy of my earlier reaction and response to the student work.  I take pains to remain a fly-on-the-wall and stay out of the student/respondent interaction.  The student is expected to interact with the respondent, describing the project, answering questions and asking questions without intervention from me.  However, I was unable to be in town on Thursday because I needed to attend a meeting relating to the ongoing construction on the renovation of and addition to the Blank Performing Arts Center on the campus of Simpson College (home of Theatre Simpson).  This is one of the disadvantages of having the festival so close (within 50 miles) of our home school.  I left on Wednesday evening following the performance of The Odyssey and drove to my home in Des Moines, arriving around midnight.  It was my intention to attend the 1-hour meeting at 8:00am in Indianola and drive to Ames, arriving around 10:30 in time for all of the responses.  Unfortunately, between inspecting the new seating that the seating contractor was just finishing up and a marathon after-meeting with a company that may be handling the signage (ADA, room identification, directional and memorial/donor signage) throughout the building. I was not able to make it back to Ames until 3:30pm…after every one of our student design response sessions.

I count this a missed opportunity and I have been hard pressed to help students process their responses.

That’s all for now.

Have fun! (after all, they don’t call it a play for nothing)  But, be safe!

SJM

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