Theatrical productions are an important outlet through which people can express their creativity and explore their artistic visions. So when drama students at Northwood High School got to use Vectorworks Spotlight software to design sets for their fall play, “The Ash Girl,” a dark twist on the classic tale of Cinderella, they were able to take their passion for the stage one step further.
To get started, six students attended a Vectorworks boot camp to learn the technical skills that are integral to creating engaging theatre. Their teacher, Danyelle Dunavold, was so impressed with their work that she let them design and build the entire show themselves. “I wanted my students to dip their toes into every aspect of technical theatre, so they worked with many of the different features of Vectorworks,” Dunavold says. “They picked it up so fast, much faster than I did myself!”
Students explored lighting and sound design, hung and focused lights, and programmed a lightboard. They also built scenery and TV flats. Each of the students fully designed ground plans for a scene of the play, and senior Jacky Lao even created intricate cut lists for the set pieces. A carpentry master coached students through physically creating what they had modeled in the software, making this a truly student-produced show. “To me, it’s like a game,” said sophomore student Joshua Lee. “First, you figure out what you want to do. Then when you get better at designing, it’s like you level up. When you see what everyone else is doing, it changes you for the better.”
Dunavold has nothing but respect for her students’ hard work, and says she plans to continue using Vectorworks Spotlight software for future productions. “It’s meaningful for them to take ownership of this production,” Dunavold says. “They’re making a lot of decisions themselves. It’s all their vision.”
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