Design Competition

Graduate and Undergraduate Students

Each year, graduate and undergraduate students display their design work at SETC’s Annual Convention, get critiqued, meet professional designers, network, and compete to win cash and experience awards!

Entrants have a chance to be critiqued by Distinguished Career Designers — modern masters of design with national and international reputations. The experts use an open, one-on-one critique format to offer invaluable learning for all in attendance — whether a student, professor or professional.

Winners of the competition receive cash, product or experience awards (depending on the competition), a certificate of achievement, and recognition in SETC News. Categories are listed below.

Questions should be directed to SETC Design Committee Chair Michael Smith or Educational Services Manager Claire Wisniewski.


2017 Distinguished Career Designers & Adjudicators

Thank you to our panel of four acclaimed designers who gave keynote presentations and provided feedback on entries to the 2017 Design Competition.

Beowulf Boritt, Set Designer

Beowulf Boritt’s set design credits include Act One (Tony Award), The Scottsboro Boys (Tony Nomination), Therese Raquin (Tony Nomination), A Bronx Tale, Hand To God, On The Town, Sondheim On Sondheim, …Spelling Bee, LoveMusik, Rock Of Ages, Chaplin, Bronx Bombers, Grace and The Two And Only on Broadway; 100 Off-Broadway shows such as The Toxic Avenger, The Last Five Years and Miss Julie. Other design credits include The Seven Deadly Sins (New York City Ballet) and the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. He received a 2007 OBIE Award for sustained excellence.

Kevin Rigdon, Lighting Designer

Kevin Rigdon is a Houston-based, award-winning scenic, lighting and costume designer for theatre. Audiences around the world have seen his work in venues that include Broadway, Off-Broadway, London’s West End, the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, Theatre Royal Bath, Donmar Warehouse and the Peter Hall Company, as well as theatres in Israel and Australia. He has created designs for more than 350 productions for organizations that include Steppenwolf Theatre, Alley Theatre, Goodman Theatre, American Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, Mark Taper Forum, American Repertory Theatre, Atlantic Theatre, Lincoln Center Theater, and many more. He is the recipient of two Tony Award nominations, four Drama Desk Award nominations, two American Theatre Wing awards, two Houston Theater Awards, and seven Joseph Jefferson Awards.

John Gromada, Sound Designer

Select Broadway: 35 productions including The Elephant Man, The Trip to Bountiful (Tony nomination), The Best Man (Drama Desk Award), Clybourne Park, Seminar,  The Columnist, Next Fall, A Bronx Tale, Prelude to a Kiss, Proof, A Streetcar Named Desire, Twelve Angry Men, A Few Good Men. Other New York credits include: Ripcord, Old Hats, Dada Woof Papa Hot, Incident at Vichy, Satchmo at the Waldorf, Domesticated, Measure for Measure (Delacorte), The Orphans’ Home Cycle (Drama Desk and Henry Hewes Awards), Shipwrecked! (Lucille Lortel Award), The Skriker (Drama Desk Award), Machinal (OBIE Award). Film credits include a score for the Emmy nominated The Trip to Bountiful.

Alejo Vietti, Costume Designer

Alejo Vietti’s Broadway costume design credits include Holiday Inn, The New Irving Berlin Musical; Allegiance (Drama Desk nomination); and Beautiful The Carole King Musical (London’s West End -Olivier Nomination, and National Tour). Selected Off Broadway works, Nightingale (MTC), Grace (MCC) Tryst, John Patrick Shanley’s Storefront Church, Old Jews Telling Jokes. Encore’s Paint Your Wagon. Other credits include Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame (Japan 2016 and Berlin 2017), Radio City Rockettes (including selected costumes for the recent New York Spectacular),  Chicago Lyric Opera, New York City Opera, Minnesota Opera, Donesk Opera (Ukraine), Colorado Ballet and Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Regional: Alley Theatre, Goodspeed Opera, Guthrie, Hartford Stage, Paper Mill Playhouse, Shakespeare Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse Williamstown Theatre Festival, and Old Globe among others. He’s the recipient of the 2010 TDF Irene Sharaff Young Master Award.

Design Competition Categories

Ready to Work Awards

Sponsored by Lexington Children’s Theatre, Omaha Theater Company and Triad Stage

2017 Winners:

  • Lexington Children’s Theatre: Rainy Edwards, Florida State University
  • Triad Stage: Maranda DeBusk, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
  • Omaha Theater Company: Nevena Prodanovic, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

This unique award offers talented graduate student designers the opportunity to work professionally in the field in addition to winning a cash award from SETC. All graduate level designers entered into the SETC Annual Design Competition are also entered into Ready to Work. There are no additional application forms or fees.

SETC collaborates each year with professional theatres to award Ready to Work. During the Design Competition each of the theatre professional representatives view the designs and choose their own candidates to interview. Each company chooses from their own finalists. (Winners can only work at one theatre as part of the award.) Winners are announced at the Design Award Ceremony Friday night at the Annual Convention. The award has kick-started several careers as winners return the following season to design at the company. Learn more about Ready to Work »

Costume Design

Sponsored by Wardrobe Witchery

2017 Graduate Winners:

  • 1st Place: Emily Tappan, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 2nd Place: Hannah Chalman, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 3rd Place: Courtney Foxworthy, Indiana University
  • Honorable Mention: Olivia Trees, The University of Tennessee

2017 Undergraduate Winners:

  • 1st Place: Sara Petty, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
  • 2nd Place: Breanne Levandowsky, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 3rd Place: Annabel Lorence, California University of Pennsylvania

The Costume Design Competition has two divisions, Undergraduate & Graduate, for which six cash prizes are awarded: 1st Place: $125; 2nd Place: $75; 3rd Place: $50.  Download the 2017 Costume Design Guidelines »

Costume Crafts & Technology

Sponsored by Norcostco

2017 Winners:

  • 1st Place: Brittney Harrell, Kent State University
  • 2nd Place: Jillian Parzych, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 3rd Place: Magdalena Tortoriello, Indiana University
  • Honorable Mention: Desiree Anderson, Kent State University

This competition includes both undergraduate and graduate students who design costume crafts. You may enter two areas, or you may have several pieces judged together; i.e. 3 hats. The Costume Crafts Design Competition is a combined undergraduate and graduate competition whose three winners will receive:1st Place: $125; 2nd Place: $75; 3rd Place: $50.  Download the 2017 Costume Crafts & Technology Guidelines »

Lighting Design

Sponsored by Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc.

2017 Graduate Winners:

  • 1st Place: Bridget Williams, Indiana University
  • 2nd Place: Nanette Tate, University of Memphis
  • 3rd Place: Kristen Reding, University of Memphis
  • Honorable Mention: Jordan Vera, University of Tennessee Knoxville

2017 Undergraduate Winners:

  • 1st Place: Haley Brown, Furman University
  • 2nd Place: Marcus Randolph, University of North Georgia
  • 3rd Place: Adeline Pawlick, Radford University
  • Honorable Mention: Wylder Cooper, Clemson University

The award’s winning student designers in the Undergraduate and Graduate divisions win the following cash prizes: 1st Place: $125; 2nd Place: $75; 3rd Place: $50.  Download the 2017 Lighting Design Guidelines »

Projection Design – New!

Sponsored by Broadway Media Distribution

2017 Winners:

  • 1st Place: Wylder Cooper, Clemson University
  • 2nd Place: Maranda DeBusk, University of Tennessee – Knoxville
  • 3rd Place: Amber Kilpatrick, Virginia Commonwealth University

This competition includes both undergraduate and graduate students who design projections, video, and/or digital media. Student projection designers showcase their designs during the annual Design Competition. The Projection Design Competition is a combined undergraduate and graduate competition whose three winners will receive:1st Place: $125; 2nd Place: $75; 3rd Place: $50. Download the 2017 Properties Design & Construction Guidelines »

Properties Design & Construction

Sponsored by Robert O’Leary and Doug Brown, Friends of Props

2017 Winners:

  • 1st Place: Monica Croxton, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 2nd Place: Stephan Miller, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 3rd Place (Tie): Jay Mullens, Middle Tennessee State University
  • 3rd Place (Tie): Samantha Myers, Catawba College

This competition includes both undergraduate and graduate students and shall include both hand and set props. For this competition a prop shall be defined as “a non-costume item used by an actor (hand prop) or a set dressing including furniture and decorative elements of the set even if not handled by an actor.”A maximum of three items per student may be entered and can be from an actual production of a project that is unrelated to a specific production.The Props Design & Construction Competition awards winners of the combined undergraduate and graduate division the following prizes: 1st Place: $125; 2nd Place: $75; 3rd Place: $50.  Download the 2017 Properties Design & Construction Guidelines »

Scenic Design

Sponsored by Sculptural Arts Coating, Inc.

2017 Graduate Winners:

  • 1st Place: Nevena Prodanovic, University of Tennessee – Knoxville
  • 2nd Place: Jelena Andzic, University of Tennessee – Knoxville
  • 3rd Place: Vince Salpietro, Ohio University
  • Honorable Mention: Katherine Field, Virginia Commonwealth University

2017 Undergraduate Winners:

  • 1st Place: Cody Rutledge, University of Memphis
  • 2nd Place: Rebekah Rast, College of Charleston
  • 3rd Place: Gavin Mosier, Ball State University
  • Honorable Mention: Emma Hoffbauer, University of North Georgia

The Scenery Design Competition awards winners in the Undergraduate and Graduate divisions win the following: 1st Place: $125, 2nd Place: $75, 3rdPlace: $50.  Download the 2017 Scenic Design Guidelines »

Sound Design

Sponsored by Shure, Inc.

2017 Winners:

  • 1st Place: Jo Sanburg, University of Memphis
  • 2nd Place: Maddie Daily, University of North Georgia
  • 3rd Place: Maranda DeBusk, University of Tennessee – Knoxville

Undergraduate and graduate sound designers showcase their sound designs during the annual Design Competition. Prizes will be awarded based on all designs entered for both the undergraduate and graduate levels of the Sound Design Competition. Prizes for winners of the combined Undergraduate & Graduate competition: Shure Products for First, Second and Third Places.  Download the 2017 Sound Design Guidelines »

Stage Management Games

Sponsored by EmptySpace Technology

2017 Winners

  • 1st Place Overall: Emily Hambridge – Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 2nd Place Overall: Breezy Potter – Virginia Commonwealth University
  • 3rd Place Overall: Katie Cairns – Virginia Commonwealth University

The SETC Stage Management Committee is excited to announce the 5th annual SETC Stage Management Games. Student stage managers from all training levels are invited to compete in a round-robin of timed events that include: writing cues, recording blocking, taking line notes, taping a plan and checking presets. The top three competitors will advance to a finalist round. The winner will be awarded a prize. For more information please contact Shawn Paul Evans at Learn more about the Stage Management Games »