Design Competition

Congratulations to our 2015 Design Competition Winners!

Browse through the photo gallery above to see images of the first-place designs from the 2015 Design Competition held at our annual convention. You can also check out our photo album on Facebook. We can't wait to see what the winning designs will look like in 2016!

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 Administrative Assistant Rachel Blake.

How to Enter

Competition applications and Convention registration will be available online starting October 15, 2015. Please note: You must be registered for convention and your school must be an organizational member of SETC by Jan. 28, 2016 for you to win any of the competition prizes. Check with SETC to confirm school membership: 336-272-3645.

Ready for Work Awards

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 for Work. There are no additional application forms or fees. 

SETC collaborates each year with professional theatres to award Ready for 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 for Work »

Costume Design

Sponsor TBA

The Costume Design Competition has two divisions, Undergraduate & Graduate, for which six cash prizes will be awarded: 1st Place: $125; 2nd Place: $75; 3rd Place: $50.  Download the 2016 Costume Design Guidelines »

Costume Crafts & Technology

Sponsored by Norcostco

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 2016 Costume Crafts & Technology Guidelines »

Lighting Design

Sponsored by Electronic Theatre Controls, Inc.

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 2016 Lighting Design Guidelines »

Properties Design & Construction

Sponsored by Friends of Props

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 2016 Properties Design & Construction Guidelines »

Scenic Design

Sponsored by Sculptural Arts Coating, Inc.

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 2016 Scenic Design Guidelines »

Sound Design

Sponsored by Shure, Inc.

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.The Sound Design Competition awards winners of the combined undergraduate and graduate division the following prizes: 1st place Beta 181C Microphone; 2nd place SRH940 Headphones; 3rd place SRH440 Headphones.  Download the 2016 Properties Design & Construction Guidelines »

Stage Management Games

Sponsored by EmptySpace Technology

The SETC Stage Management Committee is excited to announce the 4th annual SETC Stage Management Games, Thursday evening, March 3, 2016, 9:00-11:00 pm. 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 one-year individual subscription to Virtual Callboard. Up to 25 stage managers can compete, and sign up to compete on a first come first served basis will begin at 7:30pm March 3, 2016. For more information please contact Shawn Paul Evans at

Learn more about the Stage Management Games »

2015 Distinguished Career Designers & Adjudicators

Thank you to last year's Design Competition Adjudicators and Keynotes:

Sir Richard Pilbrow 

Lighting Designer 

A pioneer in stage lighting design with numerous Tony Award nominations, Richard Pilbrow is also one of the world’s leading theatre design consultants, an author and a producer. 
His advice for young designers: 
"We live in a tough, competitive world, but one of many opportunities. How to survive? Seize every opportunity, no matter how modest. To get through the stage door, you have to push! Then do better than anybody expects. The fastest cup of coffee, the smiliest face, the most ingenious design. And of course, network. Everything in your future will be about who you meet today. You have to push yourself forward. You must build your own 'brand.' Remember though, the play is the thing. Let your best advertisement be true honest work."

Stanley Meyer 

Scenic Designer 

From Broadway’s Beauty and the Beast to the Tournament of Roses Parade, Stanley Meyer has over 60 regional and international credits in theatre, theme park design and rock tours. 

His advice for young designers: 

"Always refer to yourself as an artist. It doesn’t matter if you are a designer or a technician, we are all members of a family of artists. Diversify. Diversify. Diversify. Seize every opportunity, and design anything and everything that you can. Design a roller coaster, Super Bowl halftime show, Hello Kitty parade, television show, movie, website, the windows at Tiffany’s, Lady Gaga’s concert tour, King Lear. It doesn’t really matter what you design as long as the project stimulates your inner creative spirit and imagination."

Kai Harada 

Sound Designer 

Working on Broadway, Kai Harada designed sound for a number of shows, including On the Town, Million Dollar Quartet and Follies, which earned him Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations. 

His advice for young designers: 

"Remember that there are very few absolute laws in sound design, aside from the physics and engineering bits. Trust your gut – and your ears. Push the envelope, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and give something a try. Sometimes the best knowledge comes from experimentation, and that can mean stepping away from the computer or the mixing console for a bit. When you start out in this business, pay attention to detail. Learn how to read people. We do not work in a vacuum, so communicate, cooperate and collaborate. But don’t forget to have some fun along the way!"

Michael McDonald

Costume Designer

A regional, Broadway and off-Broadway designer, Michael McDonald earned Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for his work on the 2009 revival of Hair on Broadway.

His advice for young designers:

"I am always telling young designers, 'Your show is not on the Internet!' The Web is useful, but it is no substitute for honest research that you can hold in your hand. Go out in the world, shop a new vintage store, investigate a new neighborhood, spend hours in a bookstore, shop your own buttons. It will enrich your design, your experience, and your credibility."

About Us

SETCThe Southeastern Theatre Conference is a dynamic membership organization serving a diverse constituency and reaching throughout the southeast region of the United States and beyond.

"Serving the Nation in Theatre"



Contact Info

Southeastern Theatre Conference, Inc.

1175 Revolution Mill Drive, Studio 14

Greensboro, NC 27405

Phone 336-272-3645

Fax 336-272-8810 

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