The Art of Stage Design (DRA2250.01)

Michael Giannitti

A set design communicates lots of information to an audience, and provides the physical world in which a performance takes place. In his book The Dramatic Imagination, the great set designer Robert Edmond Jones wrote: “…we may fairly speak of the art of stage designing as poetic, in that it seeks to give expression to the essential quality of a play rather than to its outward characteristics.” Students in this course will work through the process of designing stage sets in which poetic expression is evident and functionality is addressed. Basic design principles and conceptualization, play analysis, theatrical style, research, drafting by hand on a computer, and model making will all be covered. Viewing examples of scenic designs done by a diverse representation of some of the most prominent working designers will help inform our work. The collaborative process as an integral part of theatrical design will also be addressed.  Students will be expected to read the plays and respond with various types of visual images, including research, sketches, plans and models. Over the semester, project work primarily will involve design development for three plays written from quite diverse perspectives: Fun Home by Lisa Kron and Jeanine Tesori, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, The Children by Lucy Kirkwood, and one of August Wilson’s Century Cycle plays. Although design for live performance will be the focus, this class will also be useful for students shaping space in other media.


Learning Outcomes:
•Develop design ideas and your own point of view on a dramatic text
•Find and organize visual research materials appropriate to each play
•Develop a visual and spatial response to each play through sketches and models
•Present designs clearly and articulately to the class, and provide constructive feedback to other students


Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Corequisites: Completion of a Dance or Drama Lab
Course Level: 2000-level
Credits: 4
W 8:30AM - 12:10PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 14
Course Frequency: Every 2-3 years

Categories: Drama , Fully In-Person , All courses
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