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Technical Design & Production

What we are looking for

Students come to Ellington for the excellent training and the exciting opportunity to express themselves as artists while challenging themselves to expand their knowledge in the classroom and through hands on experience. If you are hardworking, high achieving, a self-starter and a dedicated team player, then the Technical Design & Production Department is right for you! As one of the nation’s premier college preparatory arts institutions, we recruit the best and maintain a high standard of achievement for our young artist – A high standard in both arts and academics. We offer an academic and art program that is intense, rigorous and exciting! All students interested in Technical Design and Production must complete the interview and hands on shadow process.

What to bring/how to prepare

In addition to the MySchoolDC online application deadline of 11:59pm, Monday, February 3, 2020, there are additional materials described below that must be submitted directly to Duke Ellington by 11:59pm on Monday, February 3, 2020 (see “Written Materials Submission Details” below). All additional materials must be submitted by this deadline so that our staff will have adequate time to review them in advance. 

The following additional materials must be submitted to Ellington by 11:59pm on Monday, February 3, 2020.

  1. Written Portion: A typed paragraph defining Technical Design and Production or Arts Management.
  2. A resume of any experience you have in the fields of technical design and production, set construction, lighting, sound and video production, costume design, stage management, and/or crafts.

NOTES – Two notes on a key part of the Technical Design & Production application:

  • For your MySchoolDC application online essay, please be sure to include your interest in any aspect of technical design and production, for example, lights, costume, sound, set, stage management. Also, please explain what you plan to do with the training you will receive from Ellington’s Technical Design and Production Department.
  • If possible, please include an “Art/Other” recommendation as one of your three in the MSDC Application. This could be a letter from a Director, Production Manager, Stage Manager, Designer from a production that you worked on – who can speak to your experience. (Note: Your application will not be penalized if you cannot provide this additional letter.)

Written Materials Submission Details

All written materials completed by the student must be typed in 12-point Times New Roman font. Materials must be received by the deadline and may be:

  • Emailed to, or
  • Hand-delivered to the Ellington front office, for Admissions, or
  • Mailed. Mailed materials should be sent to:

Admissions Director
Duke Ellington School of the Arts
3500 R Street, NW
Washington, DC 20007

About The Interview

For the interview, you will take a “Production & Design Aptitude Quiz” that tells us the level of your technical and design knowledge. You must also bring the following:

  • An original portfolio of your work that highlights your stage-related interests and skills. How should I present my professional portfolio?:
    • 3-ring Notebook (cloth, vinyl, or leather)
    • Table of Contents
    • Use extra-wide 3 ring tabs with labels to separate each section so you can easily find the information during an interview situation
    • Put all pages in page protectors using front and back sides (do not use three-hole punch)
    • Place three extra copies of your resume and list of references (NOTE: These references are your application teacher recommendations listed in professional reference/resume format) in a protective sleeve to hand out during your interview

Source: Williams, A.G., & Hall, K. J. (2001). Creating your career portfolio: At a glance guide for students. (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc.

Examples of work the portfolio might contain are:

  • Drawings or paintings from arts classes (not necessarily related to technical design),
  • Three-dimensional work, models, sculpture, collages, designs,
  • Sketch books,
  • Visual examples showing your training, graphic abilities and artistic vision,
  • Items from a production you have worked on, including:
    • Photographs or playbills from the production with your name and position.
    • Run sheets, order of services (church), playbooks.
    • Production drafting, scenic, costume or lighting examples, (plots), renderings and sketches, sound/video recording samples. Other examples of previous experiences are welcomed.
    • Sketchbooks, preliminary sketches (your process).
    • Prompt books/ including: Rehearsal/Performance Reports, Cue Sheets, Blocking notations.

The interview process itself

The interview for the TDP department is done in three phases:

  1. Take the “Production & Design Aptitude Quiz”
  2. Participate in their interview with staff, bringing their portfolio paperwork with them and having sent the other required materials in advance
  3. Students who have a successful interview then move to Phase 3 – Invited to participate in a shadow workshop. Shadow workshop students will either work with current TDP students in the production of a performance, or in a class setting that simulates these experiences. The shadow workshop gives the student a chance to see what is truly involved in TDP and gives us a chance to see how well the student works with others, stays focused, and accepts direction. This is a very physically active and hands on department. You must be able to lift equipment, climb ladders and be willing to get dirty and dusty.

NOTE: These shadow workshops may begin in the late afternoon and continue into the night-time. This is a realistic experience for TDP students. If the shadow workshop involves a performance at Ellington, parents/guardians of the applicants will be given two complimentary tickets to the show their child shadows, so they can enjoy the performance and discuss it afterwards with their child. Ticket availability is limited for some productions and will be distributed on a first come, first serve basis.

Have a successful audition


  • All departments offer Audition Workshops in December and January to help students prepare for their official audition. Students who participate will be able to learn what to bring, review the audition procedures, learn how to build a portfolio, present their work with confidence and prepare their work for the audition. Visit for more information and how to sign up – workshops cost $10. This fee can be waived for special circumstances, please email if you would like to request one.
  • Auditions are the first week of February 2020 – immediately after the application deadline! Make sure to visit our website to review the audition schedule. Auditions are open call for all students who successfully apply via MySchoolDC. You must view your audition date and time based on your art department and the first letter of your last name.


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