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Out of the spotlight, waiting in the wings

Costume designer highlights the opportunities in technical theater

By Mitch Grauberger
On March 1, 2019

If  a student considers becoming involved with the theater department on their college campus, they may think that the only options are performing onstage.  

However, the opportunities are far more diverse than only being an actor.  Students can participate in many aspects of the theater world, including technical theater.  

Technical theater is the behind the scenes work that goes into creating a staged production. The areas of technical theater are scenery, lighting, properties, costuming and sound.    

On Kirkwood Community College’s campus, the technical theater artists are typically Kirkwood faculty or staff, or local professionals, explained Emily Ganfield, costume designer at KCC.  She added that students are always welcome to assist these professionals, even if they have little to no experience.  

“We are always looking for opportunities to teach students,” Ganfield commented.  

Another way students can become involved in theater is by attending theatrical productions.  

“As a collaborative art form, an essential piece of that collaboration is your audience,” said Ganfield.  

Aside from the possibility of enjoying a show, there are other benefits to being an audience member.  

“Theater gives you...a safe place to see things you don’t agree with, see things that might make you uncomfortable and have conversation and dialogue about those things.”    

Kirkwood does multiple theatrical productions each school year.  This spring, the theater department is doing a collaboration with the college’s music department.  

“The Music Department is doing an operetta, called ‘Trial by Jury,’ it’s by Gilbert and Sullivan and then we selected a short full-length play,” explained Ganfield.  The play, titled “Priscilla Dreams the Answer,” and operetta will be performed April 26 and 28.  

Students are able to attend this pairing of KCC’s music and theater department for free with their EagleCard.  

At the time of publish, auditions for actors have already occurred but any student interested in being involved in other ways should contact Emily Ganfield at, or inquire in the Arts and Humanities office in 336 Cedar Hall.  

Paint cans line the shelves in a corner of the Kirkwood Community College scene shop.

Totes of costume pieces in the KCC costume shop. PHOTO BY MITCHELL GRAUBERGER.


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