Assistant 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. We will also explore how design ideas can spark the development of devised work involving performers. 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.
When designing costumes, projections, sound, lighting, props, or scenery, do theatre designers read plays any differently than a director or an actor? Should they? When reading a play, to what does a designer respond? Theme, character, dialogue, stage directions, place, time, rhythm, flow, and arcs all play into a designer's process of discovering the visual and aural possibilities of texts. How does a designer sift through the body of a script and discover clues of the physical nature of the play? This course focuses on reading plays with design in mind. We will read and discuss selected plays. Students will research period and aesthetic styles, lead discussions, present initial design ideas for each play, and work in "design teams." Throughout the semester students will expand their design vocabulary and experiment with design presentations. Prerequisite: Must have previously taken a Theatre design or production course.
Though the use of slide projections has a long history in the theatre, it is only within the last ten years that projection design has become a significant design element in many theatre productions. More recent advances in projection technology have made projections not only common, but often central to the experience of the performance environment. Continued experimentation with the integration of projections in many theatre productions has influenced other theatrical disciplines such as playwriting, directing and the traditional design areas. In this course we examine the history of projection design in theatre performance leading up to current practices. We will question the use of projection design in today's theatre while we experiment with strategies for its inclusion. Students will be given an introduction to the "tools" of projection design in a studio setting as they advance through a series of exercises and independent projects. Laptop required.
How can scenic, lighting, and sound design enhance or underscore a social or political message? How can a designer's vision influence one's experience or interpretation of a performance? In this class we look at designers and designs whose work has amplified or challenged traditional and nontraditional social and political texts. Throughout the semester students will be challenged to create scenery, lighting, and sound designs with the intention of enhancing or confronting the social or political themes of selected works. Within a studio format students will have the opportunity to further develop their skills in scenic, lighting, and sound design presentations. Prerequisite: A college level theatre design course.
Designers, choreographers, and performers frequently face a traditional empty 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, western, non-western, traditional, non-traditional, and the "performers" who use or have used them. We will then look at the theatre design disciplines, such as scenery, lighting and costumes, and examine the ways they serve the text and/or vision of a performance piece within a particular performing space.
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.