Honors senior draws on Honors experience as theatre maker

Honors senior Cecilia Chan has been working as a scenic designer for The Trolleys, a show supported by the Department of Theatre and Dance at App State. Chan is majoring in theatre arts with a concentration in design and technology, and also minors in music and Chinese. Chan draws connections with her work as a scenic designer to her experience in the Honors College, She remarks, 

“The Honors College experience is one of community and interdisciplinary curiosity, both of which are values that I hold closely in my work as a student and theatre maker. As a designer, I approach my research with a fluid perspective, actively seeking different ways to look at how my research can go within the director’s vision. The use of interdisciplinary scholarship and communicating that with a community that cares about the work we do is something that I treasure from within, and outside of the Honors College.”

Chan explains her role and the collaboration it requires by saying, “I am responsible for the physical world of the show - designing all of the scenic elements and working closely with my director and design team to make sure this world is in line with the director’s vision, but also within creative boundaries of our individual design focuses. The most critical part is the collaboration between our team, as each of our design elements affect one another, one detail at a time.”

The Department of Theatre and Dance describes The Trolleys as “In a world inhabited only by children, ‘The Trolleys’ are a gang of six living just outside the city. They need their light jars to survive - but the lights have started fading and no one knows why. Savage Kim and her gang head towards the city and the unknown, following a mysterious song. Will they find more light before their jars go out and they become Dusters? Commissioned in 2015 by the Australian Theatre for Young People, The Trolleys asks the question: ‘What happens if you inherit a world that isn’t safe?’”

Chan was originally interested in participating in The Trolleys through her major. She viewed a list of various productions throughout the year, as well as the roles students would undertake should they join. Chan was originally drawn to the show’s script and, as she says, “[the] unique magic that accompanied it.” Chan was also enticed by the show’s idea of the consequences of inheriting an unsafe world, and says that that aspect resonated with her. She further mentions, 

“This show touches on the need for community, and that was something I wanted to work on for my last semester here at App State. In many ways, this show has allowed me to be a kid again in my design - curious, exploring, and always wanting more!”

Under the mentorship of Mr. Mike Helms, chair and professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance, Chan has learned “invaluable skills” regarding scenic design. She states that all of the steps that come along with scenic design - research, sketching, and construction - have been “gratifying” as she has grown in her skills.

After Chan graduates, her professional goals are to provide a more inclusive experience for theatre. She reflects, “I wish to create immersive, inclusive, and accessible worlds for audiences beyond my reach. That is my main goal as it pertains to theatre and entertainment. The performing arts is a field that I believe shapes and bonds communities, and I want to create specifically for communities that are not usually considered as target audiences for theatre. My love for the performing arts comes from the escape it provides from our everyday lives, a source of entertainment and relief from our routines, which is something that my family doesn’t have the luxury to indulge in. As a designer and theatre technician, I want to continue working in my roles of theatremaking to serve all communities and audiences that include people such as my family.”

The Trolleys will be featured in the Valborg Theatre from October 5-8, with shows occurring at 7:00 p.m., as well as a matinee at 2:00 p.m. on October 9. 



Top photo features Chan in the process of building a set piece for The Trolleys. Photo submitted. 

Published: Oct 5, 2022 11:40am