The theater world that will greet UNC Greensboro BFA Design and Technology graduate Izzy Kitch is very different than the one they expected to find when they started the program in UNCG’s School of Theatre two years ago.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world on its head, and graduates who are entering fields that require physical interaction with other professionals, engagement with audiences in closed spaces, and other in-person challenges have had to re-imagine, retool, and rethink how to approach their craft and reach their audience.
“I think COVID has affected us in a way where we’ve had to think of theater in a different way,” says Kitch. “And realizing there are different ways to do things, that we don’t always have to interact with each other physically, to still tell the story in an impactful way.”
Kitch’s major, the Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drama – Design and Technical Production, educates students to be literate in the history, theory, and practice of theater, and to have particular training in designing for the stage and stage technology. And in Kitch’s case, you can add to that list of outcomes being able to pivot on your creative heels during a pandemic.
A key example of this flexibility is evident in how Kitch and other costume designers and performers have learned to incorporate face coverings into their costumes and roles. “A lot of the costumes now have to incorporate masks so it’s safe, so everyone can still be close enough to each other – in that six-feet radius – but also still look like their character,” Kitch says.
Originally from Morrisville, North Carolina, Kitch transferred to UNCG after earning an associate’s degree. And they have thrived here ever since. “My experience being at UNCG has been shaped by working with an intense group of people who really, really want to make Broadway-level productions on a low budget in a fast-paced environment. I loved my time here – I enjoyed every moment of it.”
What’s one of the important lessons they’ve learned while pursuing their degree?
“I want to have a hand in everything that I’m doing, especially when I’m designing, so I have a hard time letting go. I think that one of the biggest things that I’ve learned while here is to take a step back, take a breath, and look at the whole picture, rather than focusing on little things. And I really think this program teaches you that it’s OK to trust other people, to let them help create the vision you’re after, and that we really do work as a team, rather than feeling like everything is on your shoulders.”
Kitch will leave with a lot of memories of their time here at “the G”. Their favorite? “One of my biggest memories was finally seeing my entire cast of 24 in “The Witches” completely costumed – head-to-toe – in scary, creepy-like, high-fashion. Seeing everything that was on paper turned into this highly dynamic show that we worked so hard on for so many months. Seeing them enter the stage and hearing everyone’s reactions to it.”
Originally thinking they would head to New York City after graduation to work in professional theater, the pandemic has prompted Kitch to rethink their post-graduation plans. They are now looking to attend graduate school for costume design.
Kitch explains, “I would like to take what I’ve learned from my associate’s program with special effects makeup and puppetry and then take my BFA in design and mix them to create really dynamic shows. I think that would be my dream.”
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Story by Matthew Bryant, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications
Videography by Grant Gillard, University Communications