Theatre MFA Candidate Wins Digital Design Award for Second Consecutive Year

For the second year in a row, Department of Theatre MFA candidate Jenna Gove has won the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT) Midwest Regional Section Digital Design Competition. 

This year’s winning design was for her costumes created for the MSU Department of Theatre’s 2019 production of The Bacchae. Her work on The Bacchae also won the 2019 Lansing City Pulse Pulsar Award for Best Costume Design. 

Gove’s sketch of the Dionysus costume for The Bacchae.

The Bacchae was directed by David Furumoto, a guest scholar of classical Asian theatre, and the concept was a stylized homage that blended Japanese Noh, kabuki, Chinese opera, and Indian theatre forms with a touch of modern runway fashion. 

“It was an incredible opportunity to collaborate with an expert in the field throughout my research and design process,” Gove said. “When I felt pushed outside my comfort zone, I had to put my trust in the director and that helped me to trust myself as a designer. I also worked with an undergraduate makeup and headdress designer, Ketura Bradford. Her work really completed the looks.”

Gove’s building of the Dionysus shoulder piece.

The Digital Design Competition isn’t just about the finished product that audiences see on stage. Applicants must digitally capture and explain their entire process from the initial research, to sketches, to the stitching and dyeing of fabrics. The submission process is anonymous – no names, no schools – leaving the work to speak for itself. 

As the winner of the USITT competition, the registration fee for Gove to attend the USITT 2020 national conference in Houston, Texas, April 1-4 is being waived.

Last year, she won the USITT competition for her costume designs in MSU’s 2018 production of Dog Act.

Gove’s painting of the Dionysus shoulder piece.

As she prepares to graduate in the spring of 2020, Gove says the final year of her MFA has focused on the transition from school to professional career.

“I’ve been teaching a lot more guest lectures and workshops, which has helped me gain confidence as an instructor,” Gove said. “My classes include experienced theatre majors along with business majors who’ve never touched a sewing machine. I’ve learned to be flexible and adapt to what each student needs.”

Finished Dionysus shoulder piece worn onstage in the MSU Department of Theatre’s 2019 production of The Bacchae.

After earning her MFA, Gove plans to continue working in a university setting, teaching design and managing a costume shop.

“The MSU Theatre Department faculty have invested a lot of time in helping me to build a strong portfolio that includes things like a statement of equity and inclusion,” Gove said. “I’m going to graduate knowing I am ready to become a theatre educator.”