Katie Plum poses with statues on Shakespeare set

Making Much Ado About the Summer

“Much Ado About Nothing”
Scenic Design: Kevin Nelson
Lighting Design: Shannon McKinney
Photo Credits: Jamie Kraus

From May to July, Katie Plum (AR ’25), worked as a carpentry apprentice for the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. As an apprentice, she worked alongside staff carpenters in the scene shop. This gave her the opportunity to work on a wide range of solo and team projects for all four of CSF’s summer shows. Some days she built basic flats and wagons, others she dressed Much Ado About Nothing’s 1920’s-inspired set with hundreds of fake ivy garlands, others she faced King Lear’s massive lightning-shaped light boxes. “I got to learn how to use new tools and building methods from a group of really talented people,” said Plum, “and it was rewarding to see our sets come to life.” 

Specifically, she found the building and changeover process for concurrently running shows that share the same stage to be quite interesting. Many of the construction and dressing methods they used were also great references for her own scenic design work.  In her time off from CSF, she was busy scenic designing All Student Theatre’s Fall escape room, Camp Bigfoot: Legends of the Forest. Designing and building at the same time, allowed her to come up with ideas for the project that she otherwise never would have. According to Plum, it was incredibly inspiring to meet other designers and technicians from theater programs across the country and to share their work with each other. “I went to Colorado to learn more about scenic carpentry, but came away with a lot more.”

“King Lear”
Scenic Design: Kevin Nelson
Lighting Design: Shannon McKinney
Photo Credits: Jennifer M. Koskinen

Plum will be returning to Colorado from August 19th-26th to shadow scenic designer Robert Mark Morgan* during the designer run and rehearsals for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ production of A Little Night Music. “Working towards a career in scenic design myself, I think this will be a great opportunity to see the design process for a professional production and get to know other scenic designers working at the Denver Center,” said Plum. She hopes to learn about the design thinking behind the set, and to see how designers communicate with production teams to ensure cohesive artistic visions. “I am really grateful for both of these summer opportunities and excited to take what I learn back to WashU.”

Sketch of design for A Little Night Music

Katie Plum is entering her junior year at Washington University.  She is currently working towards a Bachelors of Art in Architecture, with minors in Drama and Creative Practice for Social Change. She is from Milwaukee, WI.

*Robert Mark Morgan is a nationally recognized designer, and author. He is a Teaching Professor of Drama in the Performing Arts Department at Washington University.