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.
Introduction to Cornish – Performance Production
The faculty of the Performance Production Department is committed to the concept of collaborative work among artists in the performing arts. Students experience the collaborative 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. Students engaged in completing the Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Performance Production may choose to pursue one of the following six concentrations.
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. Learn more about Costume 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. Learn more about Lighting 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. Learn more about Scenic 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. Learn more about Sound Design.
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. Learn more about Stage Management.
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. Learn more about Technical Direction.