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Theatre design students work on the big stage in Washington, D.C.

Published on April 30, 2024

Theatre design students work on the big stage in Washington, D.C.

Eastern group at conference

At the Kennedy Center conference (from left): Ethan Pervere, Ashlyn Sminkey, Professor Anya Sokolovskaya and Sam Oravits

Three Eastern Connecticut State University students took their talents for technical design in stage productions to Washington, D.C., this April for the national Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) conference.

The three were selected to attend after their work was judged by professionals this past winter at the Region I KCACTF conference, covering 60 schools in New England and part of New York state. Only six students from the region were chosen to go to the national conference. At the regional, Ashlyn Sminkey ’24 presented her costume designs from this past fall’s Eastern musical production of “Carrie.” Ethan Pervere ’24 was selected for their scenic design for the same show and Sam Oravits ’23 for his lighting design for last spring’s show “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

“Being selected to present their work at the national conference is a remarkable achievement for our students,” said Anya Sokolovskaya, associate professor of theatre and costume design in the Communication, Film and Theatre Department. The Washington conference was “an opportunity to showcase their creative talents among the best work from colleges across the United States,” she said.

Sam Oravits ’23 was selected for his lighting design last spring for Eastern’s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” “I wanted to convey the fun and lightheartedness of middle schoolers’ imagination while also conveying the harshness and anxiety of what a spelling bee can feel like to a kid,” he said.

Ashlyn Sminkey ’24 was recognized for costume design and Ethan Pervere ‘24 for scenic design for last fall’s production of “Carrie: The Musical.”

In Washington the Eastern students worked with other students from around the country on a scene from playwright August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean.”

“It was so incredible to see what everyone else created based off the same script,” said Pervere. The students also saw productions at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, where they participated in a talk-back session, and Arena Stage.

group at conference

The Eastern students got to work with theatre design students from around the country.

“We learned how to better communicate, collaborate and work efficiently with each other in the short time we got to design and program,” said Oravits. “We also got to have a conversation with esteemed Broadway lighting designer Beverly Emmons about her experiences and insightful stories.”

The national conference was an “opportunity for you to keep learning,” Sokolovskaya told the students.

Pervere has an audio apprenticeship this summer at the Glimmerglass Festival in upstate New York and will continue their studies toward a bachelor’s degree in computer science at Eastern in the fall after earning a degree in new media studies this spring. Oravits, who graduated this past spring, is a freelance lighting designer. He also works at Advanced Lighting and Sound in Manchester and at The Ballet Theatre Company in West Hartford as a production assistant.

Written by Lucinda Weiss