(From left) Joe Borillo, Jason Royal, Daniel Hilton and Drew Hale in Erik Teague's award-winning designs from "As You Like It."
(From left) Jamie Bullins and Erik Teague with one of Teague's costumes from "Urinetown."

Teague Wins Again: Student Designer Will Vie for National Award at Kennedy Center

By Cheryl Anderson Brown

When Erik Teague graduated from Cartersville High School, he didn't know that he was going to become a celebrated costume designer. In fact, he intended to study fashion design at an art school before a few twists of fate landed him in the Department of Theatre & Performance Studies at Kennesaw State University.

Last year, Teague won both the regional and national awards for costume design from the American College Theatre Festival. Now in his senior year, he has taken the regional prize again and will compete for the national award at the Kennedy Center in April.

"It's not unprecedented for someone to win the region two years in a row," says Teague's professor and mentor Jamie Bullins, who himself won back-to-back regionals in the mid-1990s, "but it is unusual for an undergraduate student to win these top awards."

If Teague wins the national award this year, he will be the first person ever to repeat at that level, according to Bullins.

Teague is humbled and little overwhelmed by the prospect. He says he was shaking in his boots at the regional competition. "The stakes are definitely higher this year. People know who I am now. I'm always surprised when they recognize me."

The stakes were high last year, too. Not only was Teague an undergraduate student competing against some of the top grad students in the country, he also was competing against productions with much larger budgets. The show he had designed, "As You Like It," was one of KSU's studio productions, which meant he had very little money to spend on the costumes. "It was the little show that could," he says.

This year, he is competing with his designs from "Urinetown," a mainstage musical production that satirizes the economic disparities in today's society. To meet this challenge, Teague developed a modern look at the 1930s, a style he calls "neo-Weimar" that harkens back to the German theatrical influences of people like Bertholt Brecht.

Bullins, who has helped Teague secure professional design jobs while assigning him KSU productions, sees a bright future for Teague. "These awards mean that he will be able to get into whichever graduate school he wants."

Teague, who will graduate in December 2007, plans to pursue the grad school route after taking a little time off to work on some more professional projects, like "The Last Night at Ballyhoo" which he recently designed for Georgia Ensemble Theatre and for which he earned a nod from the theatre critic at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Nevertheless, Teague remains humble. He plans to attend as many workshops as he can when he competes at the Kennedy Center in April and to spend a lot of time looking at his competitiors' work. "I get inspired by their process."

Afterwards, win or lose, Teague will return to Kennesaw State to design one more show, "The Robber Bridegroom," in the Fall.

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