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3/7/2005 Former Linfield student receives award for theatre work at Linfield

McMINNVILLE - Melissa Schmeer, a 2004 graduate of Linfield College, will compete with theatre students from around the country at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) in Washington, D.C., in April.

Schmeer advanced to the national level after winning the theatre lighting design competition at the regional American College Theatre Festival held in February in Ashland. She won the title for her light design for the Linfield production of “Stop Kiss.” The competition included research, technical aspects and photos of her lighting design which was judged by theatre professionals.

“To have the professional designers respond to her as glowingly as they did was very exciting,” said Tyrone Marshall, professor of theatre arts and resident designer. “To be given that kind of validation means a lot.”

Schmeer is the first Linfield theatre arts student to do a senior thesis in lighting design and the first lighting project to be entered in KCACTF from Linfield. The opening of Marshall Theatre in 2003 provided students with opportunities that were not available previously.

“Until the new facilities were complete we simply did not have the equipment to allow lighting designers to do much more than light the actors’ faces,” said Marshall. “This is an area in which the new facilities have had a major impact on the educational and creative processes.”

Schmeer was excited to be the first to do a lighting thesis in the new space. Although she had designed one arena-style lighting project in class, she was challenged by having to apply the design to an actual theatre in a real production.

“I learned to focus on the small details,” said Schmeer, who is the computer technician at Newby Elementary in McMinnville. "It was very important to know what you had to work with. I also learned to take one person’s vision or idea and adapt it with my own.”

Schmeer will represent region seven, which includes Alaska, Washington, Wyoming, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Colorado. She will be one of eight students from around the country to present her lighting design and will receive responses from academic and industry professionals from throughout the U.S.

Schmeer plans to attend graduate school and study theatre lighting or film and television lighting.