Design, Technology & Management


National KCACTF Awards for Theatrical Design Excellence

Scenery, Costumes, Lighting, and Sound

Updated October 27, 2017

Introduction and Purpose

The purpose of the KCACTF Awards for Theatrical Design Excellence is to provide student designers with feedback from professionals working in the field; to give outstanding student designers, national recognition; and to provide the opportunity for student designers to exhibit their work at the Kennedy Center. The KCACTF Awards for Theatrical Design Excellence are National-eligible, meaning the participants may be selected to advance to the National KCACTF Festival in April.

Who Is Eligible

Students who have designed in any of the following areas: scenery, costumes, lighting, or sound for a production, may take part in the KCACTF Awards for Theatrical Design Excellence, as long as their school has entered at least one associate or participating entry during the festival year. All entries must have been realized and produced at their home institution. Participants must attend their regional festival, and display their supporting materials and documentation. "Student" is defined as: a) an undergraduate student who is registered for a minimum of six semester hours or nine quarter hours at the time of production; b) a graduate student who is enrolled for three semester hours or four quarter hours at the time of production; c) a continuing part-time student who is enrolled in a regular degree program at the time of production.

How to Participate

In Region III, all student scenic, costume, lighting and sound designers for a school, that has entered at least one associate, or participating production during the Festival year, are invited to enter their designs in the KCACTF Awards for Theatrical Design Excellence. There is no nomination process, nor is participation tied to the response or the respondent(s).

To participate, the student designers need only register for the regional Design Exposition via the online registration form. Students must register even if they are listed on the production entry form and/or listed on the production response. Student designers of participating productions may attend the regional festival regardless of whether the production itself is selected to perform at the regional festival.


The Regional Festival: Display and Response


Participants are asked to prepare a display showing their design and present it at the Region III Festival. In order to help the respondents understand the design process and intentions, it is important that designers in all categories present, as part of the display support, materials, which most clearly tell of the story of the process and evolution of the design.

Supporting materials that have proven most useful include combinations of the following: research images, preliminary sketches, white models, color models, color sketches, drafting (including ground plans and sections), recordings of sound cues and manipulations that lead to those compositions, design bibles, storyboards, fabric and trim swatches, cue synopsis, production photographs, tracking sheets, sound plot, board hook-up, and the like.

This is in no way meant to be a definitive list. Your guide should be those items that help us understand your approach to YOUR design.

A one-page statement of the design approach to the production is strongly recommended.

For sound designs, CD Players will be available at the Festival to allow respondents and guests to listen to the design. To facilitate this, designers should bring 3 copies of CDs containing cues. Name and phone number of designer should be included on both the disc and the disc case.

For specific details on size and format of display panels and instruction on how to mount and present materials, please see:

Region III Exhibit Format

It is strongly recommended that students bring their materials in person to the design exposition space at the specifically scheduled time for installation of all exposition materials (see top of page). Those who cannot bring materials in person may send materials to the festival host. The designer is responsible for providing the appropriate mailing and insurance charges, and a diagram of how to mount the design.


When the student designer checks in, and is assigned a panel, she or he will also be given an assigned time at which the preliminary design response will take place. Designers will be asked to present their designs to a panel of Design Respondents. Each designer will give a short oral presentation of their design, followed by a question and answer session with the Respondents. Exact timing will depend on the number of entries, but usually there is about a minute for the oral presentation, and about 4 minutes for the response.

The Design Respondents will select a group of designers in each category to advance to a final round. During the final round, each designer will again be asked to present their design, and will be given a longer period with the Respondents to discuss her or his work.

The Respondents may choose one KCACTF Award recipient in each area (scenery, costumes, lighting and sound) if they feel that there is work of sufficient quality to advance to the National Festival. "Sufficient quality" will be determined by the Respondents and regional DTM chair(s). Please note: designers who are not present will not be eligible for national consideration.

The regional KCACTF Award recipients will be invited to show their displays at the National KCACTF Festival in Washington DC as representatives of the region.

They, recipients, will also be invited to display their designs at the annual United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Annual Conference and Stage Expo in the spring. Specific information will be given to each of the regional KCACTF Award recipients at the conclusion of the regional festival.

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