Performance Production

Overview

The Performance Production Department at Cornish College of the Arts is dedicated to educating the next generation of designers, technicians, and artisans who will create and manipulate the magic that surrounds the actors, dancers, and musicians on the live stage.

Students seeking a career in Lighting, Costume, Scenic, or Sound Design, Stage Management, or Technical Direction are passionate about the work they want to do. The Performance Production Department at Cornish College of the Arts provides a unique environment for that student who is determined to pursue a career in the production elements of the performing arts. We are an independent department, not a wing of one of the other departments; decisions about curriculum and production issues are made by professionals in your own field. We tailor the training program to your needs, whether your goal is to be a designer, stage manager, technician, or artisan. In the classroom you will find an atmosphere open to curiosity, encouraging exploration to the limits of expression. Classroom work exposes you to the traditional tools of the trade: from perspective drafting to the techniques of pattern making, from basic electrical theory to the use of the computer in the sound studio. Beyond the classroom, you will be immediately engaged in the work of a busy production company, building and staffing seven main stage productions of the Dance, Music and Theater departments each year. Both in the classroom and in production, you will work with and learn from a faculty of accomplished designers and artists who are practicing professionals in the Pacific Northwest production community.


Curriculum

The faculty of the Performance Production Department is committed to the concept of collaborative work among artists in the performing arts. Students experience this process both in the classroom and through their practical design and technical production work for the main stage productions of the Theater, Dance, and Music departments. For the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Performance Production, students may choose to pursue one of the following six concentrations: Costume Design, Lighting Design, Scenic Design, Sound Design, Stage Management, or Technical Direction.

Model Program

Model Programs are updated at the beginning of each academic year. This PDF contains the current year’s model programs for this program. Students should refer to the model program that was in effect for the year and term of their entrance to Cornish.View archived catalogs and model programs.

Concentrations

Costume Design

Frequently the most exciting rehearsal during the technical process is the first dress, when the actor seems transformed into the character in a way that is stunning to observe. The Costume Designer must understand each character in the production both as individual and as member of the ensemble, and must have a conceptual grasp of both the text and the thrust of the particular production.

Read More

The Performance Production Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree concentration in Costume Design provides a carefully balanced curriculum including both highly practical hands-on experience and intensive focus on artistic development. From the first week of the first year, students find themselves engaged in the practice of production, building costumes, settings, and properties, working on production crews, building and running Theater, Dance and Music department shows. While Costume Design students will work in many different capacities on productions in their first year, their work will be increasingly focused in Costumes as they progress, so that the successful student will be working as primary Costume Designer on main stage productions in their final years.

As with all of the concentrations in Performance Production, the goal of the Costume Design Concentration is to ground the student in the traditions and well established techniques of the discipline, while encouraging them to develop their own unique artistic voice. The faculty, all highly accomplished professional designers and artists, provide students with mentorship, evaluation and both formal and informal feedback in classes, during the production process, and through regular student portfolio reviews.

First Year

The first year curriculum is designed to immerse the student in the fundamentals of production and design and is shared by all Performance Production concentrations. Students work in both shops, serving as the primary build crew for 7 main stage productions during the year. The Theater Graphics class is focused on development of the craft of graphic communication including drafting, rendering, and model building. Students begin their exploration of text with a year-long Literature of Theater sequence. They study the crafts and traditions of both the costume and scene shop in Fundamentals of Technical Production. During the spring semester, they begin to study the principles of design with Introduction to Production Design 2D. All first year students participate in the Integrated Studies program in Humanities and Sciences meeting and collaborating with students from all departments at Cornish. Integrated Studies creates a foundation for future study at the College by focusing on the strengthening of academic skills, particularly reading analysis, writing, critical thinking, and research.

Second Year

Students are given specifically targeted production assignments which involve increasing responsibilities and begin to hone in on the area of costumes. Each student will complete one or two primary assignments on crew or design teams during each semester. Lighting and Scenic classes round out the study of fundamentals, and students begin a sequence of courses in drawing both still life and the human form. In the fall, they continue the study of production design with Introduction to Production Design 3D, and Scenic Painting. The exciting and intensive Theater History sequence and electives or additional Humanities and Sciences coursework round out the busy second year schedule. Second year students also present their portfolio of work to the faculty at the end of the Spring semester. These portfolio reviews are designed to assist the student in preparing a professional portfolio by the time they complete the BFA degree.

Third Year

Intensive concentration in the practice and process of design is the hallmark of the third year. Production assignments are progressively more responsible, with students serving as heads of departments and assistants to designers on production teams by the end of the third year. Some advanced students may even find themselves designing a main stage show. Costume students will take Intermediate Studio in Costumes, digging deeper into the conceptual and practical approach to costume design. In addition they may select a second design concentration, or study stage management or technical direction in studio. Most Costume Design students will select from various life drawing electives available in the Art and Design Departments. The Theater History sequence continues with Contemporary Theater Studies, and the business of working as a freelance designer or technician is discussed in Technical Management. Students take elective courses in various areas, and continue their sequence of Humanities and Sciences courses. Portfolio reviews become more directly focused on selecting work for the professional portfolio, and on developing a style of presentation that best communicates the individual artist's work.

During the summer between their third and fourth years many students choose to do their Professional Internship, a full-time work experience with a professional arts organization or with an established artist working in the Costume area. This 12-week experience exposes the student to the realities of working in their chosen field and begins the important process of developing contacts in the professional world. Internships are arranged by the student with the assistance of the department and may satisfy up to 9 credits of in-major requirements. They may be taken at any time after the student has completed 60 credits toward the degree.

Fourth Year

Fourth year Costume Design students continue their formal design training with the Advanced Study in Costume Design sequence. Often working one on one, or in very small groups with their mentor, students work on advanced rendering skills, continue to develop their technical craft, and work toward thorough mastery of the operation of the costume shop. They are working as primary Costume Designers on main stage productions, and sometimes as designers in their secondary area of focus. Usually, they are completing their Humanities and Sciences requirements with elective courses of their choosing, and they are putting a great deal of energy into completing their portfolios and preparing for their final project. The Final Project is usually based on the Costume Design for a major production, and is documented with sketches, research, drawings, pictures, and an appropriate narrative. In their final semester, seniors make a formal public presentation of their portfolios. This public review is intended to launch the student into the local production community, and is well attended by staff of local performing arts organizations.

Lighting Design

It is said that if you can’t see an actor, you can’t hear the actor. Perhaps, but Lighting Design is about so much more than illumination. Without the Lighting Designer, the work of the other visual designers becomes invisible. It’s the Lighting Designer who reveals (or conceals) the world of the play, establishes the time of day, the time of the year, possibly even the geographical location. A lighting cue may establish movement, passage of time, motivation of characters, and a wide range of emotional states.

Read More

The Performance Production Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree concentration in Lighting Design provides a carefully balanced curriculum including both highly practical hands-on experience and intensive focus on artistic development. From the first week of the first year, students find themselves engaged in the practice of production, building costumes, settings, and properties, working on production lighting and sound crews, building and running Theater, Dance and Music department shows. While Lighting Design students will work in many different capacities on productions in their first year, their work will be increasingly focused in Lighting as they progress, so that the successful student will be working as primary Lighting Designer on main stage productions in their final years.

As with all of the concentrations in Performance Production, the goal of the Lighting Design Concentration is to ground the student in the traditions and well established techniques of the discipline, while encouraging them to develop their own unique artistic voice. The faculty, all highly accomplished professional designers and artists, provide students with mentorship, evaluation and both formal and informal feedback in classes, during the production process, and through regular student portfolio reviews.

First Year

The first year curriculum is designed to immerse the student in the fundamentals of production and design and is shared by all Performance Production concentrations. Students work in both shops, serving as the primary build crew for 7 main stage productions during the year. The Theater Graphics class is focused on development of the craft of graphic communication including drafting, rendering, and model building. Students begin their exploration of text with a year-long Literature of Theater sequence. They study the crafts and traditions of both the costume and scene shop in Fundamentals of Technical Production. During the spring semester, they begin to study the principles of design with Introduction to Production Design 2D. All first year students participate in the Integrated Studies program in Humanities and Sciences meeting and collaborating with students from all departments at Cornish. Integrated Studies creates a foundation for future study at the College by focusing on the strengthening of academic skills, particularly reading analysis, writing, critical thinking, and research.

Second Year

Students are given specifically targeted production assignments which involve increasing responsibilities and begin to hone in on the area of Lighting. Each student will complete one or two primary assignments on crew or design teams during each semester. Lighting and Scenic classes round out the study of fundamentals, and students begin a sequence of courses in drawing both still life and the human form. In the fall, they continue the study of production design with Introduction to Production Design 3D, and Scenic Painting. The exciting and intensive Theater History sequence and electives or additional Humanities and Sciences coursework round out the busy second year schedule. Second year students also present their portfolio of work to the faculty at the end of the Spring semester. These portfolio reviews are designed to assist the student in preparing a professional portfolio by the time they complete the BFA degree.

Third Year

Intensive concentration in the practice and process of design is the hallmark of the third year. Production assignments are progressively more responsible, with students serving as heads of departments and assistants to designers on production teams by the end of the third year. Some advanced students may even find themselves designing a main stage show. Lighting students will take Intermediate Studio in Lighting, digging deeper into the conceptual and practical approach to Lighting design. In this class, they begin working with the LIGHTBOX, our fiber-optic scale model lighting laboratory. In addition they may select a second design concentration, or study stage management or technical direction in studio. Most Lighting Design students will select from various electives available in the Art and Design Departments. The Theater History sequence continues with Contemporary Theater Studies, and the business of working as a freelance designer or technician is discussed in Technical Management. Students take elective courses in various areas, and continue their sequence of Humanities and Sciences courses. Portfolio reviews become more directly focused on selecting work for the professional portfolio, and on developing a style of presentation that best communicates the individual artist’s work.

During the summer between their third and fourth years many students choose to do their Professional Internship, a full-time work experience with a professional arts organization or with an established artist working in the Lighting field. This 12-week experience exposes the student to the realities of working in their chosen field and begins the important process of developing contacts in the professional world. Internships are arranged by the student with the assistance of the department and may satisfy up to 9 credits of in-major requirements. They may be taken at any time after the student has completed 60 credits toward the degree.

Fourth Year

Fourth year Lighting Design students continue their formal design training with the Advanced Study in Lighting Design sequence. Often working one on one, or in very small groups with their mentor, students work on advanced plotting and cueing skills, continue to develop their technical craft, and work toward thorough mastery of the equipment and process of the lighting profession. They are working as primary Lighting Designers on main stage productions, and sometimes as designers in their secondary area of focus. Usually, they are completing their Humanities and Sciences requirements with elective courses of their choosing, and they are putting a great deal of energy into completing their portfolios and preparing for their final project. The Final Project is usually based on the Lighting Design for a major production, and is documented with sketches, drawings, research, pictures, and an appropriate narrative. In their final semester, seniors make a formal public presentation of their portfolios. This public review is intended to launch the student into the local production community, and is well attended by staff of local performing arts organizations.

Scenic Design

The Scenic Designer is a true magician, transforming a tiny empty room into a vast open field, then in just 30 seconds converting it into a castle great room, or a third floor walk-up flat in the city. Not just any city, but New Orleans, in the summer, in 1935. Knowing how to create what you need, and not one thing more or less than you need, to help the audience enter into that “willing suspension of disbelief” that allows the performers to exist in the world of the play, instead of just trudging across an empty stage.

Read More

The Performance Production Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree concentration in Scenic Design provides a carefully balanced curriculum including both highly practical hands-on experience and intensive focus on artistic development. From the first week of the first year, students find themselves engaged in the practice of production, building costumes, settings, and properties, working on production lighting and sound crews, building and running Theater, Dance and Music department shows. While Scenic Design students will work in many different capacities on productions in their first year, their work will be increasingly focused in the area of scenery, props and paint as they progress, so that the successful student will be working as primary Scenic Designer on main stage productions in their final years.

As with all of the concentrations in Performance Production, the goal of the Scenic Design Concentration is to ground the student in the traditions and well established techniques of the discipline, while encouraging them to develop their own unique artistic voice. The faculty, all highly accomplished professional designers and artists, provide students with mentorship, evaluation and both formal and informal feedback in classes, during the production process, and through regular student portfolio reviews.

First Year

The first year curriculum is designed to immerse the student in the fundamentals of production and design and is shared by all Performance Production concentrations. Students work in both shops, serving as the primary build crew for 7 main stage productions during the year. The Theater Graphics class is focused on development of the craft of graphic communication including drafting, rendering, and model building. Students begin their exploration of text with a year-long Literature of Theater sequence. They study the crafts and traditions of both the costume and scene shop in Fundamentals of Technical Production. During the spring semester, they begin to study the principles of design with Introduction to Production Design 2D. All first year students participate in the Integrated Studies program in Humanities and Sciences meeting and collaborating with students from all departments at Cornish. Integrated Studies creates a foundation for future study at the College by focusing on the strengthening of academic skills, particularly reading analysis, writing, critical thinking, and research.

Second Year

Students are given specifically targeted production assignments which involve increasing responsibilities and begin to hone in on the areas of scenery, props and paint. Each student will complete one or two primary assignments on crew or design teams during each semester. Lighting and Scenic classes round out the study of fundamentals, and students begin a sequence of courses in drawing both still life and the human form. In the fall, they continue the study of production design with Introduction to Production Design 3D, and Scenic Painting. The exciting and intensive Theater History sequence and electives or additional Humanities and Sciences coursework round out the busy second year schedule. Second year students also present their portfolio of work to the faculty at the end of the Spring semester. These portfolio reviews are designed to assist the student in preparing a professional portfolio by the time they complete the BFA degree.

Third Year

Intensive concentration in the practice and process of design is the hallmark of the third year. Production assignments are progressively more responsible, with students serving as heads of departments and assistants to designers on production teams by the end of the third year. Some advanced students may even find themselves designing a main stage show. Scenic students will take Intermediate Studio in Scenic Design, digging deeper into the conceptual and practical approach to scenic design. In addition they may select a second design concentration, or study stage management or technical direction in studio. Most Scenic Design students will select from various drawing and history of art electives available in the Art and Design Departments. The Theater History sequence continues with Contemporary Theater Studies, and the business of working as a freelance designer or technician is discussed in Technical Management. Third year students continue their sequence of Humanities and Sciences courses. Portfolio reviews become more directly focused on selecting work for the professional portfolio, and on developing a style of presentation that best communicates the individual artist's work.

During the summer between their third and fourth years many students choose to do their Professional Internship, a full-time work experience with a professional arts organization or with an established artist working in the field of scenery, props, or painting. This 12-week experience exposes the student to the realities of working in their chosen field and begins the important process of developing

Fourth Year

Fourth year Scenic Design students continue their formal design training with the Advanced Study in Scenic Design sequence. Often working one on one, or in very small groups with their mentor, students work on advanced rendering, and model making skills, continue to develop their technical craft, and work toward thorough mastery of the equipment and process of the Scenic profession. They are working as primary Scenic Designers on main stage productions, and sometimes as designers in their secondary area of focus. Usually, they are completing their Humanities and Sciences requirements with elective courses of their choosing, and they are putting a great deal of energy into completing their portfolios and preparing for their final project. The Final Project is usually based on the Scenic Design for a major production, and is documented with sketches, drawings, research, pictures, and an appropriate narrative. In their final semester, seniors make a formal public presentation of their portfolios. This public review is intended to launch the student into the local production community, and is well attended by staff of local performing arts organizations

Sound Design

Wind howls across the bleak landscape, thunder is heard in the distance, the sound of footsteps becomes audible as the lights fade up from black. In just 20 seconds, in the dark, before any actor is on stage, the Sound Designer has transported the audience into the world of the play. Sound has such a visceral connection to the human psyche, the audience may even shiver when they hear that cold wind, and they can tell what direction those footsteps are coming from before they see the actor approach.

Read More

The Performance Production Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree concentration in Sound Design provides a carefully balanced curriculum including both highly practical hands-on experience and intensive focus on artistic development. From the first week of the first year, students find themselves engaged in the practice of production, building costumes, settings, and properties, working on production lighting and sound crews, building and running Theater, Dance and Music department shows. While Sound Design students will work in many different capacities on productions in their first year, their work will be increasingly focused in the area of sound as they progress, so that the successful student will be working as primary Sound Designer on main stage productions in their final years.<br />

As with all of the concentrations in Performance Production, the goal of the Sound Design Concentration is to ground the student in the traditions and well established techniques of the discipline, while encouraging them to develop their own unique artistic voice. The faculty, all highly accomplished professional designers and artists, provide students with mentorship, evaluation and both formal and informal feedback in classes, during the production process, and through regular student portfolio reviews.

First Year

The first year curriculum is designed to immerse the student in the fundamentals of production and design and is shared by all Performance Production concentrations. Students work in both shops, serving as the primary build crew for 7 main stage productions during the year. The Theater Graphics class is focused on development of the craft of graphic communication including drafting, rendering, and model building.&nbsp; Students begin their exploration of text with a year-long Literature of Theater sequence. They study the crafts and traditions of both the costume and scene shop in Fundamentals of Technical Production. During the spring semester, they begin to study the principles of design with Introduction to Production Design 2D.&nbsp; All first year students participate in the Integrated Studies program in Humanities and Sciences meeting and collaborating with students from all departments at Cornish.&nbsp; Integrated Studies creates a foundation for future study at the College by focusing on the strengthening of academic skills, particularly reading analysis, writing, critical thinking, and research.

Second Year

Students are given specifically targeted production assignments which involve increasing responsibilities and begin to hone in on the area of sound engineering and design. Each student will complete one or two primary assignments on crew or design teams during each semester. Most Sound Design students will take a Basic Sound Engineering course in their second year. Lighting and Scenic classes round out the study of fundamentals, and students begin a sequence of courses in drawing both still life and the human form. In the fall, they continue the study of production design with &nbsp;Introduction to Production Design 3D, and Scenic Painting. The exciting and intensive Theater History sequence and electives or additional Humanities and Sciences coursework round out the busy second year schedule. Second year students also present their portfolio of work to the faculty at the end of the Spring &nbsp;semester. These portfolio reviews are designed to assist the student in preparing a professional portfolio by the time they complete the BFA degree.

Third Year

Intensive concentration in the practice and process of design is the hallmark of the third year. Production assignments are progressively more responsible, with students serving as heads of departments and assistants to designers on production teams by the end of the third year. Some advanced students may even find themselves designing a main stage show. Sound students will take Intermediate Studio in Sound Design, digging deeper into the conceptual and practical approach to Sound design. In addition they may select a second design concentration, or study stage management or technical direction in studio. Most Sound Design students will select from electives available in the Music or Design Departments. The Theater History sequence continues with Contemporary Theater Studies, and the business of working as a freelance designer or technician is discussed in Technical Management. Third year students continue their sequence of Humanities and Sciences courses. Portfolio reviews become more directly focused on selecting work for the professional portfolio, and on developing a style of presentation that best communicates the individual artist&rsquo;s work.

During the summer between their third and fourth years many students choose to do their Professional Internship, a full-time work experience with a professional arts organization, a professional sound company, or with an established artist working with sound. This 12-week experience exposes the student to the realities of working in their chosen field and begins the important process of developing contacts in the professional world. Internships are arranged by the student with the assistance of the department and may satisfy up to 9 credits of in-major requirements.&nbsp; They may be taken at any time after the student has completed 60 credits toward the degree.

Fourth Year

Fourth year Sound Design students continue their formal design training with the Advanced Study in Sound Design sequence. Often working one on one, or in very small groups with their mentor, students continue to develop their design approach and technical craft, and work toward thorough mastery of the equipment and process of the Sound profession. They are working as primary Sound Designers on main stage productions, and sometimes as designers in their secondary area of focus. Usually, they are completing their Humanities and Sciences requirements with elective courses of their choosing, and they are putting a great deal of energy into completing their portfolios and preparing for their final project. The Final Project is usually based on the Sound Design for a major production, and is documented with audio samples, drawings, research, pictures, a recording of the soundscape of the production, and an appropriate narrative. In their final semester, seniors make a formal public presentation of their portfolios. This public review is intended to launch the student into the local production community, and is well attended by staff of local performing arts organizations.

Stage Management

At the hub of every production, connecting the actors with the director and designers and technicians, the Stage Manager is the most informed and the most necessary member of the team. Stage Managers make it all happen, they call the cues, organize the meetings, support the cast, assist the director, and control the flow of information. A good Stage Manager can make the most hectic and complex technical rehearsal a thing of joy and beauty to watch.

Read More

The Performance Production Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree concentration in Stage Management provides a carefully balanced curriculum including both highly practical hands-on experience and intensive focus on artistic development. From the first week of the first year, students find themselves engaged in the practice of production, building costumes, settings, and properties, working on production lighting and sound crews, building and running Theater, Dance and Music department shows. While Stage Management students will work in many different capacities on productions in their first year, their experience will be increasingly focused on the work of the Stage Manager as they progress, so that the successful student will be working as primary Stage Manager on main stage productions in their final years.

As with all of the concentrations in Performance Production, the goal of the Stage Management Concentration is to ground the student in the traditions and well established techniques of the discipline, while encouraging them to develop their own unique approach. The faculty, all highly accomplished professional designers and artists, provide students with mentorship, evaluation and both formal and informal feedback in classes, during the production process, and through regular student portfolio reviews.

First Year

The first year curriculum is designed to immerse the student in the fundamentals of production and design and is shared by all Performance Production concentrations. Students work in both shops, serving as the primary build crew for 7 main stage productions during the year. The Theater Graphics class is focused on development of the craft of graphic communication including drafting, rendering, and model building. Students begin their exploration of text with a year-long Literature of Theater sequence. They study the crafts and traditions of both the costume and scene shop in Fundamentals of Technical Production. During the spring semester, they begin to study the principles of design with Introduction to Production Design 2D. All first year students participate in the Integrated Studies program in Humanities and Sciences meeting and collaborating with students from all departments at Cornish. Integrated Studies creates a foundation for future study at the College by focusing on the strengthening of academic skills, particularly reading analysis, writing, critical thinking, and research.

Second Year

Students are given specifically targeted production assignments which involve increasing responsibilities and begin to hone in on the area of Stage Management. Each student will complete one or two primary assignments on crew or design teams during each semester. Most Stage Management students will take the Stage Management seminar course each semester in their second year. Lighting and Scenic classes round out the study of fundamentals, and students begin a sequence of courses in drawing both still life and the human form. In the fall, they continue the study of production design with Introduction to Production Design 3D, and Scenic Painting. The exciting and intensive Theater History sequence and electives or additional Humanities and Sciences coursework round out the busy second year schedule. Second year students also present their portfolio of work to the faculty at the end of the Spring semester. These portfolio reviews are designed to assist the student in preparing a professional portfolio by the time they complete the BFA degree.

Third Year

Intensive concentration in the practice and process of the field is the hallmark of the third year. Production assignments are progressively more responsible, with students serving as heads of departments and assistants to designers on production teams by the end of the third year. Stage Management students usually will be filling Assistant Stage Manager slots, and possibly will be selected as primary Stage Manager for a main stage show. Stage Management students will continue to take the Stage Management seminar class, where they learn both from faculty and from their fellow stage managers. Most Stage Management students also take Intermediate Studio in one of the design disciplines, digging into the conceptual and practical approach to the discipline they select. Most Stage Management students will select from electives available in the Theater, Music, Design or Art Departments (frequently Acting for Non-Majors). The Theater History sequence continues with Contemporary Theater Studies, and the business of working as a freelance designer or technician is discussed in Technical Management. Third year students continue their sequence of Humanities and Sciences courses. Portfolio reviews become more directly focused on selecting work for the professional portfolio, and on developing a style of presentation that best communicates the individual artist&rsquo;s work.

During the summer between their third and fourth years many students choose to do their Professional Internship, a full-time work experience with a professional arts organization. This 12-week experience exposes the student to the realities of working in their chosen field and begins the important process of developing contacts in the professional world. Internships are arranged by the student with the assistance of the department and may satisfy up to 9 credits of in-major requirements. They may be taken at any time after the student has completed 60 credits toward the degree.

Fourth Year

Fourth year Stage Management students may continue their formal training with the Stage Management course, or may choose to take independent studies or design electives. Often working one on one, or in very small groups with their mentor, students continue to develop their understanding of the stage management process. They are working as primary Stage Managers on main stage productions, and sometimes as designers or technical directors in their secondary area of focus. Usually, they are completing their Humanities and Sciences requirements with elective courses of their choosing, and they are putting a great deal of energy into completing their portfolios and preparing for their final project. The Final Project is usually based on the Stage Management for a major production, and is documented with a Production Notebook including calendars, blocking notes, and thorough documentation of the entire production process together with an appropriate narrative self-evaluation. In their final semester, seniors make a formal public presentation of their portfolios. This public review is intended to launch the student into the local production community, and is well attended by staff of local performing arts organizations.

Technical Direction

There is a standing joke among Technical Directors that they are pretty much invisible until something goes wrong. The fact is that the art of the Technical Director is the most all-encompassing in any company. Turning the ideas of the Scenic Designer and the rest of the production team into real, solid stage scenery that supports the performers and does the necessary tricks is immensely satisfying work. Successful completion of almost every single phase of moving the production into the theater and putting it before the audience depends on the work of the Technical Director.

Read More

The Performance Production Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree concentration in Technical Direction provides a carefully balanced curriculum including both highly practical hands-on experience and intensive focus on technical craft. From the first week of the first year, students find themselves engaged in the practice of production, building costumes, settings, and properties, working on production lighting and sound crews, building and running Theater, Dance and Music department shows. While Technical Direction students will work in many different capacities on productions in their first year, their experience will be increasingly focused on the work of the Technical Director as they progress, so that the successful student will be working as primary Technical Director on main stage productions in their final years.

As with all of the concentrations in Performance Production, the goal of the Technical Direction Concentration is to ground the student in the traditions and well established techniques of the discipline, while encouraging them to develop their own unique artistic voice. The faculty, all highly accomplished professional designers and artists, provide students with mentorship, evaluation and both formal and informal feedback in classes, during the production process, and through regular student portfolio reviews.

First Year

The first year curriculum is designed to immerse the student in the fundamentals of production and design and is shared by all Performance Production concentrations. Students work in both shops, serving as the primary build crew for 7 main stage productions during the year. The Theater Graphics class is focused on development of the craft of graphic communication including drafting, rendering, and model building. Students begin their exploration of text with a year-long Literature of Theater sequence. They study the crafts and traditions of both the costume and scene shop in Fundamentals of Technical Production. During the spring semester, they begin to study the principles of design with Introduction to Production Design 2D. All first year students participate in the Integrated Studies program in Humanities and Sciences meeting and collaborating with students from all departments at Cornish. Integrated Studies creates a foundation for future study at the College by focusing on the strengthening of academic skills, particularly reading analysis, writing, critical thinking, and research.

Second Year

Students are given specifically targeted production assignments which involve increasing responsibilities and begin to hone in on the area of technical direction. Each student will complete one or two primary assignments on crew or design teams during each semester. Most Technical Direction students will take a Basic Sound Engineering course in their second year. Lighting and Scenic classes round out the study of fundamentals, and students begin a sequence of courses in drawing both still life and the human form. In the fall, they continue the study of production design with Introduction to Production Design 3D, and Scenic Painting. The exciting and intensive Theater History sequence and electives or additional Humanities and Sciences coursework round out the busy second year schedule. Second year students also present their portfolio of work to the faculty at the end of the Spring semester. These portfolio reviews are designed to assist the student in preparing a professional portfolio by the time they complete the BFA degree.

Third Year

Intensive concentration in the practice and process of the field is the hallmark of the third year. Production assignments are progressively more responsible, with students serving as heads of departments and assistants to designers on production teams by the end of the third year. Some advanced students may even find themselves Technical Director for a main stage show. Technical Directing students will take Intermediate Studio in Technical Direction, digging deeper into the practical approach to translating a designer&rsquo;s concept into practical working drawings for the shop, and a plan for bringing them to the stage. In addition they may select a design concentration in studio, or study stage management. Most Technical Direction students will select from electives available in the Design or Art Departments. The Theater History sequence continues with Contemporary Theater Studies, and the business of working as a freelance designer or technician is discussed in Technical Management. Third year students continue their sequence of Humanities and Sciences courses. Portfolio reviews become more directly focused on selecting work for the professional portfolio, and on developing a style of presentation that best communicates the individual artist&rsquo;s work.

During the summer between their third and fourth years many students choose to do their Professional Internship, a full-time work experience with a professional arts organization, or with an established scenic studio or props shop. This 12-week experience exposes the student to the realities of working in their chosen field and begins the important process of developing contacts in the professional world. Internships are arranged by the student with the assistance of the department and may satisfy up to 9 credits of in-major requirements. They may be taken at any time after the student has completed 60 credits toward the degree.

Fourth Year

Fourth year Technical Direction students continue their formal training with the Advanced Study in Technical Direction sequence. Often working one on one, or in very small groups with their mentor, students continue to develop their understanding of mechanical and structural design, polish their technical craft, and work toward thorough mastery of the equipment and process of the profession. They are working as primary Technical Directors on main stage productions, and sometimes as designers or stage managers in their secondary area of focus. Usually, they are completing their Humanities and Sciences requirements with elective courses of their choosing, and they are putting a great deal of energy into completing their portfolios and preparing for their final project. The Final Project is usually based on the Technical Direction for a major production, and is documented with extensive drafting plates, research, pictures, labor and materials tracking paperwork related to the build of the production, and an appropriate narrative. In their final semester, seniors make a formal public presentation of their portfolios. This public review is intended to launch the student into the local production community, and is well attended by staff of local performing arts organizations.

Learning Outcomes

The following learning outcomes are identified by the Performance Production Faculty as essential for graduates of the program. The curriculum is designed to guide students in their active pursuit of these outcomes.

  • Broad knowledge of the practice, theory and history of all concentrations within Performance Production.
  • Skilled in craft, methods, and use of materials of technical production/design.
  • Thorough command of the practice of research, and the ability use and adapt information to specific projects.
  • Ability to think critically about and discuss the historical and social context of the performing arts.
  • Ability to communicate about their work in oral, graphical, and written form.
  • Ability to present their work effectively in group settings.
  • Ability to articulate a personal aesthetic.
  • Capacity to integrate learning across disciplines.
  • Capacity for self-assessment.
  • Ability to participate in and productively respond to critique of work.
  • Respect for and ability to participate in the collaborative process.
  • Understanding of and ability to practice basic project management skills.
  • Demonstrates a strong and consistent work ethic.
  • Demonstrates a clear understanding of professional ethics and decorum

Faculty & Staff

News

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February 10, 2016

The Three Yells: Her Name Is Isaac

Aided by a Cornish Playhouse Arts Incubator Residency, Veronica Lee-Baik brings her finished multidisciplinary piece back to campus. At a time when people are tweeting #AskHerMore, Lee-Baik tackles gender and pay equity through a distinctly Asian lens. Blending modern technology with modern dance, she creates a thought-provoking work guaranteed to spark interesting discussions afterward.

The Three Yells: Her Name Is Isaac returns to Cornish this week. This multidisciplinary dance work d...

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February 5, 2016

Kronos Quartet Residency Begins This Month

As previously announced, the Kronos Quartet will be in Seattle from February 20 to 24. They will lead a two-day interdisciplinary residency with Cornish students that extends well outside of the music department.

Cornish students from all departments will have an opportunity to interact with the famed Kronos Qua...

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February 4, 2016

Performance Production Senior Shelby Choo Receives USITT Award

Cornish senior Shelby Choo has been selected to participated in the 2016 USITT Gateway Program. This program and the USITT Diversity Initiative are committed to expanding diversity within the performing arts by focusing on mentorships for designers, technicians, and managers.

Cornish senior Shelby Choo will attend the USITT 56th Annual Conference & Stage Expo in March as...

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December 11, 2015

Decking The Stages With Cornish Alumni

Every year, the Seattle theaters fill up in December with longer runs and bigger casts as Northwest families give the gift of experiences for the holidays. Going out for a show is tradition for many in December, with productions like ACT's A Christmas Carol now entering a fourth decade. As always, that means plenty of chances to catch Cornish graduates in action.

Holiday season means an explosion of shows throughout Seattle and nearby stages. As noted by Theater...

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December 4, 2015

President Uscher Announces She Will Leave In July 2016

The Cornish community learned yesterday that Dr. Nancy J. Uscher will not seek to renew her contract when it ends in July 2016. Dr. Uscher announced her decision yesterday to allow for an orderly transition. During her five years at Cornish, Dr. Uscher has overseen the building of Cornish Commons, the establishment of the film/media program, the beginning of online courses, and several more projects intended to last well into Cornish's second century.

President Nancy J. Uscher announced to faculty, staff, and students yesterday that she will leave he...

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November 18, 2015

Cornish’s Second Century Starts With Worldwide Classes

Cornish’s second century began with the college’s first massive online open course hitting a top ten list in November. The same week, the college offered its first music master class via Google Hangouts, bringing composter/pianist Yitzhak Yedid in Australia together with students at PONCHO in Kerry Hall.

As Cornish began its second century this month, two of its global offerings let people around the wo...

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November 17, 2015

Cornish’s Next Century Gala Launches Next 100 Years

Cornish's Next Century Gala raised more than $500,000 for scholarships. Tony Award and Pulitizer Prize winning playwright Brian Yorkey talked about the importance of education and the arts. Broadway star and Tony Award nominee Stephanie Block seranaded the guests. And Cornish students showed their stuff throughout the evening, from a photo montage of recent art shows to award-winning film to live performances.

Cornish's centennial year ended with the event, marking a time to focus the College on the its next...

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November 12, 2015

15/16 Arts Incubator Residencies Begin with Kusanagi’s Durational Art

The Cornish Playhouse Arts Incubator residency facilitates the risk taking of the allied arts. This year, the first residency was completed by Cornish dance student Julia (JuJu) Kusanagi '16 in October.

The Arts Incubator residencies at the Cornish Playhouse began last year as part of the facility’s...

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November 4, 2015

Solis’ “Quixote” Journeys to the Playhouse

Octavio Solis' stage adaptation of the Cervantes' masterpiece, "Quixote: Book One" opens at the Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center November 6; for the playwright, one of the most prominent Latino playwrights in America, it is a very "hands on" experience of script development.

​Octavio Solis is relaxed and in fine humor in the lobby of his hotel, which is strategically plac...

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October 20, 2015

Cornish Faculty Lead Sessions at Arts Schools Network

The Arts Schools Network's educators want to know how to prepare their middle school and high school students to transition into college and careers in the arts. Cornish faculty lead a number of sessions, including a "Curriculum Dating," at the organization's national convention in Seattle.

Teaching students for a career in the arts that won’t start until 2021 or later informed many of t...