Backdrops, props, and more: the S!NG art directors

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By Reid Tujak, Staff Writer

The art directors of S!NG at Townsend Harris are crucial to the annual performance. From creating the backdrop to the props, they enhance the audience’s overall experience. This year, the Freshior art directors were juniors Jasmine Chang, Victoria Cisewska, and Francesca Manabat, and the Semore art directors were seniors Katrina Dydzuhn, John Pabololot, Amrita Roy, and Raymond Zhuo.

Raymond explained that the one consistent part of all S!NG shows is the backdrop, which is “usually the first thing [art directors] think about when [they] get a draft of the script from [their] overall directors.” 

Victoria added that the backdrop was her favorite part of creating this year’s artwork. “It truly takes a lot of time, effort, and patience from so many people to get the backdrop done, especially when the design is ambitious, which just makes the final product that much more rewarding,” she said.

The art department is also responsible for creating props for the show. “With the ideas pitched in from the other departments, we were able to create props that would complement [the backdrop], which allowed for more creativity to flow,” John explained. 

Francesca feels that “every year, both teams step up their art tenfold. The quality and conceptualization of the backdrops always goes up, as well as with the props that work in tandem with our scenes.”

Victoria shared her experience of leading Art S!NG for the first time. “What I enjoy about being director is that my co-directors and I are able to decide on the kind of environment we want to create for the underclassmen in our department,” she said.  “When I was a freshman, Freshior S!NG [was] where I made my first friends at school.” 

For Raymond, directing S!NG has been a transformative experience. “My experience as a director pushed me outside my comfort zone because I am usually a quiet person that listens to others, but now I needed to lead a group and delegate what needs to be done.”

As a new director, Jasmine explained that it was her priority to create a bond with her co-directors and department members. She added that “it’s important to not put yourself on a pedestal and [be] ‘superior’ to others, and instead get to know everybody and create a team of people who would support you and help the show become a success.”

John also advised future directors to have faith in themselves. “You will believe that the ideas you have are bad. You will think that you may not be doing enough for the show,” he mentioned. “That’s normal, and as a matter of fact, that’s how a true artist thinks… [but] be confident in the work you make, and if worse comes to worst you mess up an art piece, don’t stress because it can always be fixed; that’s the magic of paint.”

Though she has one year left to direct the art department, Jasmine explained that she will “miss almost every part of S!NG: from the initial drafting and planning stages of the backdrop and flats… to the funny backstage moments on the days of the show. [She’ll] even miss hauling the heavy backdrop to the cafeteria or lobby everyday and rolling out the bumpy carts to put paint on!”

“SING is filled with hardworking and passionate people who make you want to work harder and be a better artist, whether you’re a dancer, singer, [or] musician,” Amrita added. “The environment is just so uplifting and welcoming, and I don’t want it to end.”

Photos courtesy of Katrina Dydzuhn and by Sharon Li.