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Student Spotlight: Award Winning Sound Designer Kayleigh Shaffer

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

A picture of Kayleigh sitting at a sound board.

UPDATE to our story: Kayleigh Shaffer's sound design earned her a 1st place National Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival award, which came with a montary award and expenses-paid trip to the Prague Quadrennial, often considered the Olympics of theatre design, in Prague this summer. 

A senior in the Department of Theatre & Dance, Kayleigh Shaffer earned back-to-back trips to the national Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. She credits a faculty designer and instructor in the department for encouraging her to take her interest in design to the next level, which in this case meant involvement in KU's University Theatre productions.

She took home a 1st place regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival award for her sound design on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time in early 2019. She'll compete at nationals in April 2019.

A theatre design major from Olathe, Kayleigh also experienced a big success in the summer of '18 when representatives from the Williamstown Theatre Festival at KCACTF rewarded her sound design for Metamorphoses with an opportunity of a lifetime. She was tapped to work as a sound intern at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, where she met theatre professionals who worked on shows like Hamilton and A Band’s Visit. She also met actors Matthew Broderick and Jessica Hecht!

“I ran soundboard for The Closet, in which they starred,” Kayleigh said. “I played kickball with Kai Harada, a Tony award winner! One of the biggest challenges was working 12- sometimes 16-hour days. Lack of sleep was very hard getting used to, but it was all worth it in the end. I have connections now at places I wouldn’t have had before. I met so many people who I love and hope to work with again in the future!”

Back up to January 2018 when Kayleigh took 1st place at Kennedy Center for American College Theatre Festival Region V for her sound design on the University Theatre production of Metamorphoses. She then went on to Nationals in April, where she did not place first or runner-up. However, her work impressed the Williamstown Theatre Festival representatives who offered her a summer internship.

Her work in the Department of Theatre & Dance prepared her for reading design paperwork and understanding the terminology. She credits Kelly Vogel, Resident Artist Academic Associate, for encouraging her to get involved in the University Theatre during the spring of her freshmen year. “What I like about KU is you get design experience early on. You don’t have to wait until your junior or senior year.”

A recipient of KU’s Charles “Buddy” Rogers Scholarship, Kayleigh served as the sound designer for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which played at the University Theatre in Fall '18. She said she was happy to have collaborated with classmate Matthew O’Brien, a junior double majoring in theatre performance and design, to create original music and sound cues. Kayleigh also works behind the scenes at the Lied Center, including helping with sound for the University Dance Company's Fall Dance Concert. “I like doing it all – sound crew, running the board and designing.”

Her advice for students who will come through the program after her is simply: “Don’t be afraid to try new things. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. I was afraid to do a lot of things last year, but I’m glad I did!”


Photos courtsey of Kayleigh Shaffer from her internship at Williamstown Theatre Festival.







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