Student designs artwork for AHS' Wizard of Oz

Student designs artwork for AHS' Wizard of Oz
Posted on 09/24/2018
Elizabeth ActonARLINGTON, Tenn. (Arlington Community Schools) – Most know the story of the Wizard of Oz well. The tale of the girl from Kansas longing to find her way home has been adapted countless times through the years, from book to movie, even its own Broadway adaptation.

This fall, Dorothy will leave Kansas once again as the Arlington High School Student Theatre takes on the iconic story. “Everything in the show is made or performed by students,” said AHS junior Elizabeth Acton, who is serving many roles in the play from paint crew chief to actress. “All of the technical pieces, the artwork, the performances – it will all be student lead.” 

Artwork for the Wizard of Oz performanceThat includes the show’s poster artwork, which Acton commissioned last month to help with the announcement. Like Technicolor did for the 1939 MGM film, Acton’s poster artwork is already bringing the show to life through its vivid colors and storytelling style.

“I began with the idea of the yellow brick road,” Acton explained. “The yellow brick road is so iconic so I built around it by having the four friends heading towards Oz.”

Acton said she had a certain creative process when mapping out this design. She started with a clean page in her sketchbook. One after another, she drew her ideas on paper, ending up with 30 to 40 different sketches before making her decision. “It was really overwhelming at first,” she said about the decision. “It’s such an iconic story with many aspects, but I ended up liking this one because it shows the witch encompassing everything and everyone.”

“As the story goes along, the witch watches and sees everything,” Acton continued. “This piece manages to pull in all of those aspects of the story and the characters as well.”

Once the sketch was complete, Acton used an iPad to graphically design the piece, a process that can be lengthy and meticulous. From the slight color changes and shading on the City of Oz to the airbrushed speckles throughout the piece, Acton said it’s the little things that tie the piece into one.

“I’m just happy I had the chance for my work to be displayed in an important way,” Acton said. “We’re [the students] allowed to contribute in so many different ways when it comes to theatre… whether you enjoy painting the set or acting on stage. It’s just an amazing opportunity.”

The Wizard of Oz will be performed by students in Arlington High’s Theatre Department, which is part of AHS’ PAVE Fine Arts Academy, a Performing Arts and Visual Fine Arts Academy that allows students to specialize in concentrated arts fields. PAVE includes Visual Arts, Film & Video, Vocal Music, Instrumental Music and Speech & Debate. To learn more about the PAVE Fine Arts Academy, visit