Set design wins scholarship for Avonworth senior

Avonworth High School senior Shannon Knox was awarded a scholarship in recognition of her set design for the spring musical “Into The Woods.” Photo by Tom Steiner for The Citizen

In musical and dramatic productions, there’s work backstage and onstage. Backstage, running the lights and the sound, building the set. Onstage, performing. In Avonworth High School’s recent production of “Into the Woods,” senior Shannon Knox managed to experience both sides of the curtain, performing as Cinderella’s stepmother while at the same time creating set pieces as student scenic designer.

She enjoys both roles, but prefers behind-the-scenes work where her achievement in design earned her a Charles Gray Scholarship presented last week at the annual Kelly Awards staged at the Benedum Theater. Pittsburgh’s Civic Light Opera funds each of the $2,500 scholarships.

Application for the award included a portfolio review with a board of judges. “I assembled 12 pieces of artwork and photos of my scenic artwork and gave a five minute speech,” Shannon said.

Shannon’s designing began with last year's show, “Beauty and the Beast,” when the director asked her to create a design for a “…poor provincial town.”  This year, as student scenic designer, director's assistant and student producer, she designed the scenes for acts one and two for the spring musical, which was nominated for three Kelly Awards.

Shannon said that she has enjoyed drawing since she was a child, but that she became bored with conventional art after elementary school. In her freshman year, she found a new interest in art when she discovered theatrical design.

“In musical theater, so many different components make up one giant piece of art. There are costumes, lights, music, actors, and set pieces that bring to life something dramatically more awe inspiring than a painting. Scenic design brings art to life,” she said.  

The daughter of Chris and Amy Knox of Ohio Township, Shannon has been accepted to Penn State, Main Campus, where she will pursue a bachelors of fine arts degree in scenic design and technology.

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