WMU News

Senior takes top honors at regional theatre competition

Feb. 1, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Christina Killmar, a Western Michigan University senior majoring in theatre design and technical production, was awarded top honors at the Region III American College Theatre Festival in January.

At the regional competition in Evansville, Ind., Killmar beat out 37 other students from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin and Illinois, winning the Scenic Design Competition. Killmar's winning design was for "Kiss of the Spider Woman," a University Theatre production staged this past October. She will advance to the national competition in April at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

"The road to scenic design is a journey from the script to a concept, and then from the concept to the
realism of the design," says Killmar.

She began her research for "Kiss of the Spider Woman" by investigating prisons, South American architecture, and spiders. Her scenic design, inspired by artists Piranesi and Diego Rivera, represents a marriage between the real world of the South American prison where the majority of the action takes place and the dream world of the Spider Woman, where the prisoners escape in their minds. "I wanted the audience to constantly be aware of both worlds regardless of where the action is happening," says Killmar.

A native of New Baltimore, Mich., Killmar graduated from Anchor Bay High School in 1996. In her time there, Killmar was active in theatre both on and off stage. Due to the small size of the high school and theatre program, Killmar and the other students performed on stage in addition to constructing the sets and handling back stage responsibilities.

"I have terrible stage fright," said Killmar. "The combination of this and my love of problem-solving led me toward technical theatre."

Her interest in theatre grew with the support and encouragement of her high school drama teacher, Joe Abell, who passed away shortly after her graduation. "He was my inspiration," said Killmar. She is the only one of Abell's students from the past 10 years of his teaching who pursued technical theatre design beyond high school.

After graduating from high school, Killmar spent one year at Oakland University majoring in technical theatre. Now in her fourth year at WMU, Killmar expects to graduate in April. Following graduation, she plans to attend graduate school for scenic design. In February, Killmar will attend the Unified/Regional Theatre Auditions where she will present her portfolio to as many as 32 graduate schools.

WMU's Department of Theatre has a long history of achievement at the American College Theatre Festival. A 1998 production of "Quilters" won the Region III competition and was a part of the final festival at the Kennedy Center. In 2000, University Theatre's "Native Son" was selected from among nearly 60 productions as one of only eight to perform at the regional competition in Milwaukee.

Two of the student designers from "Native Son," Patricia Nichols for lighting and Alexandre Corazzola for scenic design were awarded top honors at the regional competition and earned honorable mentions at the national awards. Nichols is now enrolled in the Master of Fine Arts lighting design program at the University of California-San Diego, while Corazzola is in the Master of Fine Arts scenic design program at New York University.

Media contact: Shauna Thieman, 269 387-6222, shauna.thieman@wmich.edu

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