Research project leads to scholarship for NSU graduating senior Nicole Lala

Nicole Lala

Nicole Lala, a graduating senior in theatre at Northwestern State University, has received a $10,000 scholarship to San Diego State University for a research project she completed while at NSU. Lala will pursue a Master of Fine Arts in Costume Design at San Diego State starting this fall. She received a graduate assistantship and full tuition waiver along with the scholarship.

The project involved the NSU Theatre production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” on which Lala was part of the costume crew. The show needed several crowns and a chainmail hood.

Motel 6

“Traditionally, these metal items are expensive to buy, difficult to make, and uncomfortably heavy to wear on stage,” said Professor of Costume Design Jessica Parr.

The costume shop reached out to Professor of Computer Information Systems Dr. Begona Perez-Mira, who offered the use of the CIS program’s 3D printing lab.

Lala explored 3D printing technology with the goal of making these items more accessible, affordable and useful for theatre.

“Mrs. Parr had approached me about it. I didn’t know anything about it or even know it could be used in costume production before then,” said Lala, who is from Kenner. “I ended up thinking it was really cool and wanting to continue with it later.”

Lala learned how to use the equipment and the software, and to manipulate files to print the individual elements that would become crowns and chainmail garments. After hours of printing, the costume pieces were constructed, tailored to the actors and painted to look like metal.

“The results were a huge success,” said Parr. “Lightweight chainmail and intricate crowns enhanced the show and its production values.”

Parr urged Lala to present her research at the United States Institute of Theatre Technology conference. This national conference typically presents work by college and university faculty and graduate students. Parr said for an undergraduate project to pass through the selection process is a testament to Lala’s work and adds prestige to NSU’s Theatre and Dance program.

“I was by far one of the youngest people presenting, and I was incredibly nervous,” said Lala. “I was honored that they accepted my presentation and wanted me to talk about the project I had put so many hours into. It was also amazing to be able to talk about my work with other people in my field. The experience has given me confidence. I remember thinking I wouldn’t be accepted to present at USITT and being so surprised when I was. And I certainly never thought I would be nominated for a scholarship for it.”

Lala is continuing her research with an independent study focusing on 3D printing and its use in theatre. This summer, she will work with the costume department for Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio, before moving to San Diego for graduate school.