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Performance Design and Technology

Inspire, Collaborate & Create

Our Performance Design & Technology program is unique in that it stands strong as an individual area of focus while also being integral to all areas of performing arts. This allows you to explore other interests and expand beyond theatrical design into dance, performance art, site-specific work and live entertainment. As a partner with theater, this allows you greater opportunities and support as you pursue your passion and career.

School

Campus Locations

Main Campus - Alfred, NY

Major

none offered

Minor

Performance Design and Technology

Why Performance Design & Technology at AU?

Hands-On Experience

Gain significant practical experiences supporting a wide range of performances and events.

Explore Your Talents & Skills

Lead or participate on design and technical production projects which will develop your creative talents and technical skills.

Facilities & Instruction

Well-equipped performance venues and shops, with experienced faculty and staff supporting each area.

From Theory to Practice

Foundational classwork in design and technical production as well as advance courses in a wide range of technology (costume construction, makeup, woodworking, lighting, props) design (scenery, lighting, costumes, signs) and management provide the basis and are applied to practical production experience. Small class sizes mean direct involvement with instructors and more production opportunities. By your senior year you'll have the opportunity to take lead design and production roles.

Learn & Collaborate

All our instructors are professionals in their field with outside experience. We host guest artists, both on productions and in the classroom, who share their expertise and experiences with all of our students. We also offer workshops in career development, technical skills and creating artistic work.

Performance Design and Technology is designed to inspire and enable emerging artists and technicians and provides opportunities to gain significant practical experience within a wide range of performances and events.

Foundation Requirements (14 to 16 credit hours)

  • PDAT/THEA 120 Technical Theatre
    or PDAT/THEA 221 Costume Construction
  • PDAT/THEA 220 Design Fundamentals for Stage, Dance and Film
  • PDAT 270 Play Production
  • One Performance Class (Studio Dance course, Music Ensemble, participation in Performing Arts or IART-produced performance)
  • One History Class (Theatre, Dance, Art (IART) History class)

Design/Tech Additional Requirements

Choose 2-4 credit hours from the following:

  • PDAT 200 Special Topics
  • THEA 212 From Page to Stage: Script Analysis
  • PDAT/THEA 222 Stage Makeup

Choose 3 credit hours from the following:

  • PDAT/THEA 320 Scene Design
  • PDAT/THEA 321 Lighting Design
  • PDAT 322 Stage Costume Design
  • PDAT 370 Advanced Play Production

Capstone:

Choose 3 credit hours from the following:

  • PDAT 385 Internship
  • PDAT/THEA 470 Advanced Projects in Theatrical Design and Technology
  • PDAT 495 Senior Project

The Performance Design & Technology minor aims to nurture independent thinking in a collaborative environment. Designers and managers have opportunities to assist and design on theatre productions, dance concerts and music performances, as well as with visiting and guest artists. 

With an emphasis on storytelling, collaboration and expression, the design curriculum focuses on the why of the design as much as the how. Rigorous, small class sizes allow in-depth training in the theory and practice design. An emphasis is placed on visual communication through research and presentation. The curriculum encourages exploration and experimentation outside the boundaries of traditional performance. In the classroom, you will explore designs in all available disciplines for all manner of performances. Advanced skills classes, conceptual projects and performance-based work allow you to focus on particular areas of interest. 

Craft skills, like model making and drafting, complement the creative role of the designer as translator and storyteller in collaboration with fellow artists. Students interested in focusing in design are required to take a number of technology classes to hone these skills and better prepare for professional communication. Guest designers and directors regularly teach workshops to expand on the existing curriculum and provide alternative approaches to performance work. 

In addition to classroom work, participation in productions is required for everyone completing the minor and encouraged for all participants. The production program creates close collaborations between actors, managers, technicians and directors under professional working conditions. The diversity of the programming in the Miller Performing Arts Center creates opportunities to gain significant practical experience in a diverse range of performance events. Designers may have opportunities to assist and design on theatre productions, dance concerts and music performances, as well as with visiting and guest artists.

The Performance Design & Technology minor culminates in a capstone senior project. If you are focusing on design, you'll have opportunities to design, with the support of faculty, staff and the relevant shops, a fully produced theatre or dance production under faculty mentorship. When working toward your design capstone, you'll be expected to assist faculty or guest designers and to have production experience backstage or in the shops prior to your senior project.  Similarly, students interested in stage management will have opportunities to work with guest directors on large-scale productions. Internships are also greatly encouraged. 

You may choose to present your work at the annual regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and the USITT conferences. Several Performance Design & Technology students have been recognized at both the regional and national KCACTF conferences.

You'll find an equal respect for designers and technicians in the Performance Design & Technology minor. Classes offered are equally distributed between design and technology subjects, with an emphasis on collaboration between the two. 

Through both class work and shop hours, you will learn the basic tools used in scenery construction, sound, lighting and costuming. Under the tutelage of full-time Technical Director Zachary Hamm, you can also take classes in advanced theatrical woodworking techniques, entertainment lighting electronics and specialized materials classes. Guest artists, including alumna mask and prop maker Jennifer McClure, teach workshops in a variety of skills. 

Our excellent costume shop supports the many productions offered in the Division of Performing Arts. Under the tutelage of costume shop manager Debra MacCrea, you'll gain hands-on experience in all phases of garment construction (and re-construction), participating in the process from design to construction to watching the garment on-stage. Classes in costume construction and specialized techniques are regularly offered.

Working with faculty and guest directors and designers, you will have opportunities to collaborate and construct elements of designs in scenery, props, costumes, lighting and sound. Division of Performing Arts productions are supported by the scene and costume shops and by students working in the shops, in electrics, sound and props, and with front of house.

The Performance Design & Technology minor culminates in a capstone senior project. If you are focusing on technology, you'll have opportunities to collaborate with guest and faculty designers to approach complex technical projects, with the support of faculty, staff and the relevant shops. These projects could be independent of a specific production or towards a larger design goal. If you are working toward a technology capstone, you'll be expected to have significant roles on previous productions and to have experience backstage or in the shops prior to your senior project.  

You may choose to present your work at the annual regional Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and the USITT conferences. Several Performance Design & Technology students have been recognized at both the regional and national KCACTF conferences.

Our program is small enough to focus on the individual needs of each student while recognizing and further developing the unique talents each brings to the program. We intend to prepare our students for their further development in graduate programs, internships or the professional world. To this end, we encourage students to participate in professional development and internship programs. Many of our students work professionally during the summer and are employed in theatres across New York State and in the vibrant performance communities in New York City, Pittsburgh, and Boston as designers, technicians and managers.

Several of our student designers, managers and technicians have participated and presented their work at the annual Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and the USITT conferences. Several Performance Design & Technology students have been recognized at both the regional and national KCACTF conferences, including Allison Burrell for her costume designs of ALMOST, MAINE (2013-2014), Jen McClure for her craftsmanship for CLOUD NINE (2004-2005) and Jane Mahoney for her costume designs for THE ASH GIRL (2016-2017).

Faculty / Staff

Facilities

The Miller Performing Arts Center houses both the C.D. Smith III Theatre, a flexible black box space, and the Miller Theater, a large proscenium hall. Students interested in design and technology can be involved in any and all aspects of production.

Similar Programs

If you're interested in the Performance and Design Technology minor at AU, you may also consider a major or minor in these related programs:

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