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Department teams up with Southport for zombie event

Posted on 10.09.2013

The experience design department is working with Southport Mayor Vernon Jesse Testruth to create the first Southport Zombie Walk on Oct. 25 and 26. “My students from two different classes are now involved in this,” said Director of Experience Design and Associate Professor of History Samantha Meigs. “I have a class this semester that is titled ‘Creating Haunting Experiences.’  They [the students] will be acting as zone managers. The students from that class will be managing their own zones with the design and the management of the sub-projects within.”
Meigs said that her Introduction to Experience Design course also will be helping with the event.
“They [the students] are developing three self-contained areas where they will be doing a haunted carnival, haunted camp and a faux graveyard,” Meigs said.
The old part of Southport Road will be decorated in different themes for the event.
The students creating the different themes for the event will be staffed to create a live action scene. Others will use decorations and special effects.
“We took on the responsibility of finding different types of scenery-type deals. As in each house, or section of houses, will have a scenic design,” said junior theatre major Abel Watson. “It’s really putting the experience design concept to use. It’s giving us a real-world experience, instead of just something on campus.”
The mayor of Southport went to the event that the experience design department hosted on Sept. 13 after he was informed about the department by Associate Director of Admissions Marylynne Winslow. After he indicated interest in attending, Meigs extended an invitation.
“I invited him to come to our Friday the Thirteenth event. We had our Haunted Toy Shop. As soon as he saw, he was like, ‘That is what I want.’ And so he kind of hired us on the spot,”  Meigs said. “He liked what we did with that, and he wanted us to recreate some of that.”
The experience design department and its student-run organization has started to shift towards more community collaboration. The event with Southport fits in with that shift from on-campus to off-campus events.
“How it benefits the students is [that] you are really working with a client. So instead of it being complacent … this is giving them the opportunity to completely branch out from that,” Meigs said. “It’s a completely different demographic. It’s a very challenging, interesting environment. We are working to create the vision of somebody else.”
According to Watson, working with Southport is giving the students some real-world experience in something that they want to do after college. The students have to learn to work within someone else’s budget, figure out specific needs and collaborate with the client to figure out the best vision for the event.
“I’m most excited because it is a real-world experience. I’m not just creating a fake scenario and trying to put it to use in a classroom. I’m actually going out into the real world, executing and designing and putting together the entire project itself,” Watson said. “ … I’m not typically in these kinds of classes, even though experience design is kind of like theatre. It will give me a broader spectrum of jobs there are out there.”
The City of Southport and the experience design department are still looking for volunteers for the event. Those who are interested can contact Meigs or Debra Logan in the business office for more information.
“What I see as a real opportunity is getting our campus community to connect with the South Side neighborhoods,” Meigs said. “I’m really hoping we can generate excitement on campus for something that is right down the street and hopefully get everybody involved.”


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