College of Charleston SCHOOL OF THE ARTS

Theatre Students Get Real-World Experience Designing Sets

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College of Charleston theatre students Kathryn Teska, Samantha Dahabi, Corinne Williams, and Shelby North are working as assistant set designers and stage managers for professional theatre companies this summer to gain excellent connections as well as insight into what the field of scenic design entails outside of the College of Charleston campus. All four students have declared a major in theatre with a concentration in design and technology.

Both Teska and Dahabi are working with Charlie Calvert, College of Charleston scenic design professor, to research period styles and influences, make models, and draft technical drawings for professional theatres. Teska, a rising senior at the College, is working with Calvert on the acclaimed musical, “Next to Normal” directed by Julian Wiles, for Charleston Stage at the Dock Street Theatre throughout the duration of the summer and the fall semester; “Next to Normal” runs from February 14, 2014 to March 2, 2014. Teska is exceedingly grateful to Calvert for giving her the opportunity to work with him.

“This experience is more than I could have ever dreamed of,” Teska says. “I could think of nothing better that a mentor could have done to help me with my future career. I’ve had to build one of the most complex models he’s ever made while learning the process of design and I’ve learned about so many other scene designers while also having my eyes opened to the realities of design, such as financial restrictions.”

Dahabi is working with Calvert on a production titled “Our Town,” directed by Joseph Discher, which will be presented later this year by the well-known Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Calvert has worked with this company several times in the past, and has received positive reviews from The New York Times as a result.

“There is an art form in and of itself for working with directors and designer so that the shared vision is able to come to life,” Dahabi says. “I’ve learned a lot of great little tricks and the importance of the model we build. It is what we use to house all of the scenery and helps the rest of the production team understand what the space will look and feel like.”

Real-world opportunities will hopefully continue to be accessible for College of Charleston theatre students. Calvert is already planning to work with students next summer on a production at the Olney Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Shelby North and Corinne Williams are spending their summer as stage management interns at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and the Heritage Theatre Festival, respectively. Both have completed coursework in this area with faculty member Joy Vandervort-Cobb and have stage managed productions for the Department of Theatre and Dance.

“A large scale professional theatre is so different compared to academic theatre,” North explains. “After this experience, I find myself equipped to handle what I will have to face after I graduate. Living in a strange place and working as often as I have this summer has made me realize how much I love theatre,” says North, who like Teska, can’t help but give some credit to Calvert.

“In theatre,” explains North, “it is so easy to become consumed with the productions that we put on at the College. Professor Calvert makes sure that his students see the big picture, encouraging us to take internships and learn from as many people and as many places as possible.”

For further information about internship opportunities for College of Charleston scenic design students, contact Charlie Calvert at

Source: College of Charleston News