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A collage of responses to Covetousness by Mercedes O'Bannon, Jen Tillipaugh and Emily Chalmers

Photos/Rachelle Beckerman

Tobin Fund Supports Student PQ Exhibit

Alexandra Bonds
VP-International Activities

The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund has granted funding for the USITT PQ USA '11 Student Exhibit.

The Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, founded by the late Robert L. B. Tobin, is dedicated to bringing higher recognition to the art of theatre design through exhibitions, lectures, and wide-spread access to his extensive collection of theatre design artifacts. The Fund is also committed to the development and exhibition of the creativity of young designers who will carry the art of theatre design into the future.

The fund has supported the Student Exhibit at the Prague Quadrennial since 2003. The Institute thanks the members of the Tobin board, Mel Weingart, Linda Hardberger, and Bob Perdziola, for their continuing support.

The USITT-USA Exhibits Committee has shifted the generation of ideas and execution of the Student Exhibit into the hands of a team of students, giving them artistic and creative control over the exhibit which will represent them at the PQ. The 2011 Student Exhibit is being designed and curated by a team of three students, with the assistance of a faculty mentor.

Through the generous contribution of the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund, the three student curators/designers will receive support for their travel expenses to participate in the planning and execution of exhibit. They will attend the trial set up of the exhibits at the University of Montana School of Drama and Dance in the College of Performing and Visual Arts. In June 2011, the students will travel to Prague to participate in the set up the exhibit there. The award from the Tobin Theatre Arts Fund also covers the cost of the materials for the exhibit design.

The student curator/designers are Rachelle Beckerman, Collin Ranney, and Yu Shibagaki, and their mentor is Tom Burch. Ms. Beckerman received her BA from SUNY Buffalo and studied with Ursula Belden and Michael Lincoln at Ohio University, majoring in lighting and scenic design. She has also studied at Central St. Martins College of Art and Design in London. She worked as a student volunteer on the USITT PQ '07 USA Student Exhibit and is now freelancing in the New York City area.

Collin Ranney is an MFA candidate at the University of Maryland. A winner of the USITT W. Oren Parker Scene Design Award, he has also received a Design Fellowship at the Kennedy Center. Mr. Ranney has studied in London and worked as an assistant scene designer at the Pacific Conservatory for Performing Arts.

Yu Shibagaki is studying for her MFA in design at Northwestern. She earned a BA in theatre design and production from California State University, Fullerton, where she was honored with the Todd Muffatti Merit Scholarship in Scene Design. She has assisted designers at the Pacific Conservatory for Performing Arts.

Mr. Burch teaches design and technology at the University of Chicago. He has designed extensively in the Chicago area, receiving a Jeff Award, two After Dark awards, and Chicago's Michael Maggio Emerging Designer Award. A graduate of Northwestern, he also holds a graduate diploma from the University of Bristol, England.

A trial run of the live-action design was tested in Kansas City, and now the curators are recruiting students from around the country to volunteer to join the challenge in Prague. To find out more and to sign up to participate, contact Mr. Burch at

The student exhibit team was charged with creating an exhibit that would encourage other students to travel to Prague to view the exposition and take part in the rich array of activities in the Scenofest, a festival of workshops and seminars associated with the PQ. Their exhibit, entitled Emerge, will contain both a gallery exhibit, curated from over 450 entries from 300 students and 60 schools, and a participatory design challenge.

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