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.

2015 Adjudicators

Thanks to our 2015 Design Competition Adjudicators:

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."

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 Robert O’Leary or Administrative Assistant Rachel Blake.

How to Enter

Competition applications and Convention registration will be available online. 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 compete in any of the design competitions. Check with SETC to confirm school membership: 336-272-3645.

Costume Design

Sponsored in Honor of Irene Smart Rains

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Stage Management Olympics

Sponsored by EmptySpace Technology

The SETC Stage Management Committee is excited to announce the 2nd annual SETC Stage Management Olympics, Thursday evening, March 6, 2014, 9:00-11:00 pm in Convention Center South Hall. 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 6, 2014 in CC South Hall. For more information please contact Shawn Paul Evans at

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Ready for Work Awards

Graduate designers participating in SETC's Annual Design Competition have the opportunity to work professionally in the field in addition to winning a cash award of $1,000 from SETC. There are no special application forms or fees. Designers are chosen from all of the entrants to the competition.

2015 Winners and Sponsors

This year's participating companies and sponsors were Lexington Children's Theatre in Lexington, KY, Triad Stage in Greensboro, NC, and Omaha Theatre Company in Omaha, NE. Each company offered one Design Competition participant the opportunity to work as a designer on an upcoming production at their theatre:

  • Lexington Children’s Theatre selected costume designers Joshua Winchester from University of Florida and Joscelyne Oktabetz from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Winchester has already begun working on The Adventures of Madeline, which opens September 13, 2015. Oktabetz will be working on Puss in Boots.
  • Triad Stage selected scenic designer Josafath Reynoso from the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Reynoso worked on Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which opened Triad Stage's 15th season in August 2015.
  • Omaha Theatre Company selected lighting designer Katie Gruenhagen from Indiana University.

Lexington Children's Theatre

LCT MainStageLexington Children’s Theatre (LCT) is proud to co-sponsor the Ready for Work Award through offering a scenic, costume or lighting design to ONE talented emerging graduate designer during our 2015/2016 season of plays. Candidates may be asked to design for a variety of Children’s Theatre productions, ranging from classic to contemporary (including new works).

Founded in 1938, Lexington Children's Theatre is a fully professional, non-profit organization dedicated to the intellectual and cultural enrichment of young people. Our resident professional artistic and production staff will work with the designer in bringing his or her vision to life. In addition to the prize awarded by SETC, LCT will provide housing (semi-private room), one-on-one mentorship opportunities, and up to $1,000 for travel and expenses. This is LCT’s second year offering the Ready for Work Award. The artistic team of the theatre is well acquainted with the award, having selected two candidates last year, instead of the requisite one.

The quality of the potential designers was so high, we had a very difficult time deciding with whom to work.

- Vivian Snipes, Artistic Director


Triad Stage

TriadStage ThePyrleGSOTriad Stage is considered one of the best regional theatres in the United States, presenting classic, contemporary and new theatrical pieces. Its production of Tobacco Road was listed among the “Best of 2007” by The Wall Street Journal. Triad Stage has been spotlighted in American Theatre, Stage Directions, Southern Living and The American Theatre Wing, founder of the Tony Awards®, named Triad Stage "one of the top ten most promising theatres in the country" as the recipient of a 2010 National Theatre Company Grant.

Triad Stage produces work at two world-class performance venues in North Carolina: The Pyrle Theater in downtown Greensboro, and Hanesbrands Theatre in downtown Winston-Salem.

"Getting to know talented young designers and their work is the best part of participating in Ready for Work. From the interviews to the actual design process with the designer I select, I'm inspired by the vision of these artists. The award builds a bridge for early career designers to the profession. Our first winner, Miwa, is already scheduled to do her second show with me and is now very much a member of the Triad Stage family."

- Preston Lane, Artistic Director 

Omaha Theatre Company

The Omaha Theater Company is proud to co-sponsor the Ready for Work Award offering a scenic, costume, or lighting design to ONE talented emerging graduate designer during its 2015/2016 season. Our resident professional artistic and production staff will work with the designer in bringing his or her vision to life.  In addition to the prize awarded by SETC, OTC will provide and additional $1,000 in design fees, housing, one-on-one mentorship opportunities, and up to $500 for travel and expenses.

rosetheaterThe Rose Theater is one of the largest and most accomplished children¹s theaters in the nation, with a reputation for enriching the lives of children and families through top-quality professional productions and arts education. As the only resident, touring, professional theater company in Omaha, The Rose is committed to making the arts accessible to all children, providing opportunities for thousands of children throughout the community to attend shows and participate in classes each year. The Rose produces nine main stage productions each season with audiences that exceed 50,000 children and adults. The shows appeal to a wide range of ages starting with children as young as four years old. Each season features popular show titles and a mix of theatrical productions, musicals, and interactive theater. For more information please visit

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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