Associate Professor of Theatre Design
He served as the technical director of the Summer Repertory Theater, Santa Rosa, CA for three years before joining StageWest in Springfield, MA, where he was technical director, scenic designer and artistic associate. With more than fifty designs to his credit Peter's work includes scenery for Equus, Riches, Closer, Venus, and BFE as well as lights for The Ride Across Lake Constance, Riches, Unplugging and Bind Their Wounds at Hampshire College. Other professional and summer stock design credits include the Miniature Theatre of Chester, Summer Theatre Mount Holyoke, Worcester Foothills Theater, New London Barn Playhouse and Summer Theater at Meredith Village. Peter has served as designer and fabrication consultant respectively for WALA Heimettel, International, and AGH Design. He designed and fabricated scenic elements for Popa Depot for HERE'S American Living Room Series.
Peter is actively involved in Hampshire's DART (Design Art and Technology) Program. He is focused on design-driven performance. Peter has worked with students developing and presenting performance pieces reflecting on trauma, a photograph, control, and a piece of thread. Peter's current project is based on memories of working in a DDT plant and Rachel Carson. In addition to scenography, Peter teaches courses in light art and in exploring performance spaces.
Working collaboratively and individually, students will undertake a series of design exercises as they work toward shaping "performances" that are inspired by design ideas. Traditionally, theatre directors, playwrights, or actors take the lead in creating performed projects. What happens when designers initiate theatrical work? How can design speak to an audience? How does design develop narrative, tension, and conflict? After an introduction to the individual theatre design disciplines, we will examine methods that can carry an audience and sustain engagement. Design Driven performance, also known as design-led performance, occurs when the performance impulse manifests itself through technology and design expression. The tools: space, light, sound, props, projection, scenery, visual and aural elements drive a theatrical presentation. No script to follow, but words may inspire. A moment, a feeling, a mood, a sensation, a conflict might prompt, but instead of urging/massaging the response through words, one improvises or experiments with design elements-devising with design. Throughout the semester we will survey the work of selected artists while analyzing how they mix traditional theatre design forms (sound, lighting, costumes, scenery, props) with new media and technology. With the assistance of classmates, students will develop and "perform" individual pieces inspired by their own design visions-devising using theatre design elements.
Light Art encourages us to slow down, wait, observe, absorb, perceive, and feel. Light art is immersive, it alters our mental and emotional state. Light art truly invites us into it, not in the figurative manner that all art can, but literally. You pass through it, and it devours you. Whether it's calming, agitating, or whimsical, light can provoke thought or initiate a chuckle. Within a studio format, the class will manipulate light and explore light as sculpture and environment. We will tell stories and design light-based games or puzzles. We will create acts of guerilla lighting. Using theatre lighting instruments and a vast array of other light-emitting sources, students will create individual lightworks that express narratives, or simply reveal. We will study color, color mixing, reflection, and refraction. As we experiment with how light defines and reinforces line, movement, texture, and scale, we will develop skills and techniques that will inform students' personal use of light as an expressive medium. We will review the history of light art as well as the works of several light artists.
In this studio course, students will explore two theatre design areas that often speak with each other: scenic design and projection design. We will question the use of projection design in today's theatre while experimenting with strategies for its inclusion. Moving through a series of individual and group exercises, students begin to develop their own processes. We will interpret story and emotion within theatre works through design. Throughout the semester students develop a design vocabulary that enables collaboration and interplay, while producing unified and coherent design work. We examine how projections may influence scenery and how scenery may influence projections. Working in a studio environment, students will experiment with different scenic and projection design practices. Using tools such as Vectorworks, QLab, and Isadora, students combine technology with design expression. It is recommended that students have access to a Mac laptop.
Designers, choreographers, and performers frequently face a traditional performance space or, as is often the case, face a nontraditional space and then question how to "fill" or design within it. What elements help create the functionality and appropriateness of a performance space? We will explore a variety of spaces, traditional and non-traditional, and the "performers" who use or have used them. We will then focus on design elements such as scenery, lighting, sound, costumes, or projections and examine the many ways these elements serve the text and/or vision of a performance piece within an array of spaces.
What draws us to the light? What is the depth of our connection? We use light as a mode of artistic expression: to illuminate, to underscore, to surprise or intimidate. Why? We enter our exploration of light through the study and practice of theatre lighting design. After gaining a firm grounding in the process of lighting for the stage, we will consider how light is used in dance, music, and installation art. Through the study of how light defines and reinforces line, movement, texture, scale, and color, we gather skills and techniques that inform our own personal use of lighting design. Students will experiment with light manipulation in class and work on group and individual projects throughout the semester.