Silence falls over the crowd. The orchestra plays the first notes. Energy vibrates through the room, as anticipation grows. Goosebumps form, and smiles widen as the curtain opens to reveal a the set — elaborately painted structures and period props, costumes, hair and makeup. Before an actor says the first line — in that opening pause — the audience enters the story. Kip Shawager, associate professor emeritus of theatre design of the Ball State University Department of Theatre and Dance, said these visual cues establish the setting, the time period and the tone of the story. “We’re supporting the actors and the directions and everything they do by surrounding them with visuals to tell the story that makes sense,” he added. Shawger shared that all the visual and design aspects of theatre — costuming, sets, props, hair, makeup and lighting — all have to work in unison.