A little background
Twenty-plus years after my first design hit the stage, I am still excited by the power of theatre to transform, and by the role design takes in the transformation of space and materials. I don’t have a favorite kind of show to design, as long as the show has a heart, and the people I’m working with have a commitment to making theatre that matters. If it’s a show that doesn’t get produced that much, so much the better. I’ve been lucky enough to design plays, musicals, and operas. I approach each genre with the same commitment to create an interesting and engaging environment that enhances the meaning of the production.
My MFA in scene design is from the University of Illinois. I went on to teach design at Centre College, the University of Kentucky, and currently teach at Miami University in Oxford, OH. I’ve designed at the Florida Repertory Theatre, Gallery Players of Brooklyn, Illinois Opera theatre, the Croswell Opera House in Adrian, Michigan, New Edgecliff Theatre in Cincinnati, and West Virginia Public Theatre. As a scenic artist, I’ve worked for the Illinois Repertory Theatre’s Summerfest, the Struthers Library Theatre, and the Contemporary American Theatre Festival. I have been a member of United Scenic Artists since 2000.
How did I get started in this business? I got hooked on theatre before I was in second grade. My mom did a lot of community theatre and used to take my sisters and me to rehearsals. How many people can say that Blithe Spirit was their favorite play when they were six years old? I got my first big break when I landed the role of Mr. Bookworm in the second grade play about storybook characters coming to life. I got to wear giant glasses and a mortar board.
All areas of theatre have always been interesting to me, but for some reason I started gravitating towards scenery in high school. Mostly I think I loved the idea of trying to recreate real architecture and architectural detail on stage. Building new worlds on stage based on my observations and modifications of the world around me was exciting. It was a challenge transforming cardboard into wainscoting and newspaper into foliage. Plus the directors trusted me to be in charge of everything backstage. I learned how to schedule and plan.
I was scared to commit to theatre, so I started off as and English education major in college. I took a stagecraft class and learned how to make scenery with real power tools. Pretty soon I was a theatre major. I loved taking acting classes and design classes, and I confess to having loved theatre history. My belief in a liberal arts education was formed. Finding the interconnectedness of all the areas of theatre make every contribution stronger. That shared sense of creation is what I try to stress in the classroom. I’m not only teaching designers to design, I’m teaching actors and directors to imagine how they can make the most of space.