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Design

In this section, you’ll find content that relates to theatrical design—including lighting, sound, projections, costumes, properties, set, makeup and hair, intimacy design, and stage combat. There is a huge range of topics covered here, but a great place to start is the series Design (in a Time of Reckoning), which uplifts the work of the design community and asks, What would it mean to have a culture of justice in theatrical design?

The Latest

Who Designs and Directs in LORT Theatres by Pronoun, 2012-2020
Essay
Who Designs and Directs in LORT Theatres by Pronoun, 2012-2020
by Porsche McGovern
6 November 2023
More Cultivation, Less Crane Machine: Who Gets to Design in LORT Theatres
Essay
More Cultivation, Less Crane Machine: Who Gets to Design in LORT Theatres
by Porsche McGovern, Sherrice Mojgani
6 November 2023
Scattered, but Not Apart: A Two-Sided Story
Essay
Scattered, but Not Apart: A Two-Sided Story
by Carl(os) Roa, Rula(s) A. Muñoz
26 October 2023
A chart displaying statistics of gender between theatrical designers
Who Designs and Directs in LORT Theatres by Pronoun, 2012-2020
Essay

Who Designs and Directs in LORT Theatres by Pronoun, 2012-2020

6 November 2023

​Lighting designer Porsche McGovern​ shares the results of the final year of her study on the pronouns of designers and directors working in LORT theatres, how the study came about, and what she hopes for the future.

Porsche McGovern sits at a tech table taking notes.
More Cultivation, Less Crane Machine: Who Gets to Design in LORT Theatres
Essay

More Cultivation, Less Crane Machine: Who Gets to Design in LORT Theatres

6 November 2023

Designers Porsche McGovern and Sherrice Mojgani discuss the impact of Porsche’s multi-year study looking at designers and directors in LORT theatres by pronouns, and how theatre leaders can better support and learn from the freelance artists they hire.

An abstract rendering of a small room.
Scattered, but Not Apart: A Two-Sided Story
Essay

Scattered, but Not Apart: A Two-Sided Story

26 October 2023

Carl(os) Roa and Rula(s) A. Muñoz share a multi-vocal, non-linear account of their group’s work at the Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) Designer and Director Colaboratorio. Through both text and images, they document their group’s explorations of non-hierarchical generative process, as well as the challenges they faced.

Six people standing behind a table pose for a photo together.
Holding a Human: Caretaking, Play, and Design as a Social Act
Essay

Holding a Human: Caretaking, Play, and Design as a Social Act

12 October 2023

Dolissa Medina details her group’s expansive design process at the Latinx Theatre Commons Designer and Director Colaboratorio. Engaging with a variety of spaces and art forms opened the group’s creative floodgates, allowing them to reach new perspectives on their work and their ways of relating to one another.

Artists gather around a table and build LEGOs together.
How Do We Tend to Collaboration?
Essay

How Do We Tend to Collaboration?

28 September 2023

Mateo Hernandez acknowledges collaboration and artmaking as two distinct processes that inform each other in the theatrical process, an observation rooted in their group’s experience of intentionally reexamining the collaborative process at the Latinx Theatre Commons Director and Designer Colaboratorio.

A designer works on the floor
Play as Process at the Latinx Theatre Commons Designer and Director Colaboratorio
Essay

Play as Process at the Latinx Theatre Commons Designer and Director Colaboratorio

26 September 2023

The Latinx Theatre Commons Designer and Director Colaboratorio gathered dozens of Latinx theatremakers to approach collaboration from a place of inquiry, play, and exploration. Carla Della Gatta writes about this event as an alternate story of what is happening—and what could be happening—in US theatre right now.

event poster for Retooling Green Tool for Theatre in Africa.
Retooling Green Tools for Theatre in Africa
Video

Retooling Green Tools for Theatre in Africa

Insights from Practitioners

Wednesday 19 July 2023
Egypt, Ghana

Greening the theatre is crucial to the sustainability of theatre and the planet. Theatre designers such as lighting personnel, set designers, costumers, property designers, and sound engineers are rethinking and retooling for the purpose of creating a more eco-friendly, sustainable, and environmentally just and responsible theatre practice. In this episode, we bring theatre practitioners (such as designers and eco-scenographers) who are advancing sustainable artistic values in their practice.

Artists gather around a table and look at magazines and notes.
Meet the Participants of the 2023 Latinx Theatre Commons Designer and Director Colaboratorio!
Essay

Meet the Participants of the 2023 Latinx Theatre Commons Designer and Director Colaboratorio!

8 May 2023

The Latinx Theatre Commons announces the cohort of six directors, twenty-four designers, and seven scholars/documentarians selected for the Designer and Director Colaboratorio in Portland, Oregon this summer.

Building Our Own Tables Season 3 teaser image with guest headshot.
Create Space with Gabriel Barrera
Podcast

Create Space with Gabriel Barrera

22 March 2023

In the season finale of the Building Our Own Tables podcast, Yura Sapi invites Gabriel Barrera to share about creating Scenic G, a visual art and design company providing services in art and design, workshops, consultation, facilitation, and mentorship infused with social justice. After spending twenty years as a scenic designer, Gabriel shares about his decision to leave and build his own table as an independent artist providing opportunities for others along the way. Topics in this episode include decolonizing ideas of who a teacher can be, addressing toxic behaviors, and facilitation skills.

Concept art for a mostly red stage with a starry sky backdrop.
Practical Artificial Intelligence for Stage Design
Essay

Practical Artificial Intelligence for Stage Design

6 October 2022

Projection designer David Forsee, who brings artificial intelligence into his own design workflow, creates a toolkit for other designers interested in effectively and ethically integrating text-to-image models into their design processes.

Seven actors on stage talking amongst themselves.
Designing Collaboration: In Search of a Taxonomy of Collaborative Methods
Essay

Designing Collaboration: In Search of a Taxonomy of Collaborative Methods

17 May 2022

Emily McConnell calls for a common language to categorize designers’ collaborative relationships with directors. To find that common ground, theatremakers will have to reject the notion that each production requires a unique approach to collaboration.

a puppet of frederick douglass sits on a bench reading a newspaper.
The Ellen Van Volkenburg Puppetry Symposium
Video

The Ellen Van Volkenburg Puppetry Symposium

Bringing together practicing Festival artists with scholars to consider the intersection of puppetry with other disciplines and ideas

Saturday 22 and Saturday 29 January 2022
Chicago, Illinois

The 2022 Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival and The School of the Art Institute Chicago presented The Ellen Van Volkenburg Puppetry Symposium livestreaming on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network on Saturday 22 January and Saturday 29 January 2022.

A floating jellyfish-like figure made out of a large sheet and plastic bags. The lighting is pink with the word mixtape on the sheet.
It's Not Easy Being Green
Essay

It's Not Easy Being Green

14 September 2021

Playwright John J King shares his experience with and advice for centering sustainability in theatre productions.

Bright text above a dark teal hand drawn image of many pairs of hands placed around a table with papers of various sizes ready to be populated with designs for the future.
Design Meeting (ASL and Live Captions)
Video

Design Meeting (ASL and Live Captions)

With Alexis Chaney, Margaret Toomey, Jesse Portillo, Porsche McGovern, and Katherine Freer

Friday 3 September 2021
United States

Five designer facilitators came together to share strategies about how to turn analysis into action through embodied practice. Livestreaming on the commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv Friday 3 September 2021 at 5 p.m. PDT (San Francisco, UTC -7) / 7 p.m. CDT (Chicago, UTC -5) / 8 p.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4).

A black and white image of a flower and a raised fist drawn on a portion of a wooden door with a hinge.
The Price of Pay Activism
Essay

The Price of Pay Activism

2 September 2021

Genevieve Beller and Elsa Hiltner discuss exploitation and abuse in the theatre field, pay equity, how there should always be space for people to learn and move forward in a better way, and more.

Clint and Lindsay wearing semi-formal attire and smiling in front of a background with "Playwrights" all over it.
The Design of Change
Essay

The Design of Change

31 August 2021

Lindsay Jones and Clint Ramos discuss the intersection of art and activism, as well as the paths they take to create meaningful change for the next generation of theatremakers.

Yellow flowers, purple flowers, dark green leaves, and insects surrounding the words "Seeding Change" against a light green background.
Seeding Change
Essay

Seeding Change

30 August 2021

Katherine Freer and Porsche McGovern kick off the second installment of their Design (in a Time of Reckoning) series, which had its first week back in February 2021.

A grey-colored person looking off to the left with colorful flowers bursting from their head.
The Realm of the Senses: Theatrical World-Building for Social Activation
Essay

The Realm of the Senses: Theatrical World-Building for Social Activation

26 August 2021

In this entry of Devising Our Future, Aly Perry asks, “How might we position and design theatre as an essential space for healing, pleasure, and connection through an intertwining and interdependent realm of the senses?

event poster with headshot of dora arreola.
Master Class with Dora Arreola: Developing a Concept
Video

Master Class with Dora Arreola: Developing a Concept

With the National Institute for Directing and Ensemble Creation

Saturday 15 May 2021
United States

Pangea World Theater and Art2Action presented a Master Class with Dora Arreola livestreaming on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Saturday 15 May 2021 at 12 p.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 2 p.m. CST (Chicago, UTC -6) / 3 p.m. EST (New York, UTC -5).

Image of two puppeteers on stage using puppets in front of a digital created forest backdrop.
Spaces of Puppetry in Lübeck
Essay

Spaces of Puppetry in Lübeck

7 April 2021

Antonia Napp, Sonja Riehn, Silke Technau, and Stephan Schlafke share learnings about running KOLK 17, a cultural institution in Lübeck, Germany that combines a puppetry theatre company and puppetry museum, and where the goal is to redefine exhibiting the art form.

a purple background with the text "DESIGN meeting" and the event participants names listed.
DESIGN Meeting
Video

DESIGN Meeting

Structured as a departmental check in, designers will report out on the state of our community and the field as whole

Friday 28 February 2021
United States

Presenting DESIGN Meeting livestreamed on the global, commons-based, peer-produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Friday 26 February 2021 at 1:30 p.m. PST (San Francisco, UTC -8) / 3:30 p.m. CST (Chicago, UTC- 6) / 4:30 p.m. EST (New York, UTC -5).

The backstage area of a theatre, with a red curtain on a raised platform. There are random props and items strewn about. A woman in a 1940s outfit is standing at stage left. Down on the lower level is a ghost light. The entire stage is covered in textured, selective lighting.
Illuminating the Careers of Disabled Lighting Designers
Essay

Illuminating the Careers of Disabled Lighting Designers

25 February 2021

Lighting designers Annie Wiegand and Michael Maag discuss how being part of the Deaf and disability community intersects with their design work.

an actor onstage
Three Costume Designers Meet for Tea on the Edge of a Cliff
Essay

Three Costume Designers Meet for Tea on the Edge of a Cliff

24 February 2021

Lux Haac, Dominique Fawn Hill, and Deb Sivigny, three costume designers from around the United States, get together to talk about how they bring their values and identities into their individual practices, the importance of not tying their creativity to work, and more.

overlapping collage of plays featuring kate mcgee's lighting designs
Industry or Community
Essay

Industry or Community

What Are We Going Back To?

23 February 2021

Masha Tsimring talks about pay equity in the design world, the upsides and downsides of freelancing, how COVID-19 has affected designers, and more.

An illustration of protest signs with slogans reading Black Trans Lives Matter
Design with an Equity Lens
Essay

Design with an Equity Lens

Cultivating a Theatre Ecosystem That Can Hold Us All in Our Full Humanity

22 February 2021

Kate Freer and Porsche McGovern begin their series, Design (in a Time of Reckoning), with an opening essay about how theatremakers are currently being presented with a chance to reimagine the way the art form is made and how designers are an essential part of the solution.