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At Whittier College, theatre and communication arts students have opportunities to explore their talents and potential—both behind the scenes and in the spotlight.
Ian Clarke is closer to his dream of becoming a Disney Imagineer—the people who build The Happiest Place on Earth—thanks to his experiences bringing stage sets to life at Whittier.
The theatre major has worked on sets for various plays at Whittier, from Hairspray to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare. Along the way, he’s seen how he can power past whatever limits he encounters while bringing creative ideas to life.
“All the hard work that goes into each design is both grueling and daunting, but is extremely worth it just to see every set come to life through our actors, the lighting, and the rest of the practical elements that help tell the story,” Ian said.
Amid the whirring of power tools and the gentle swish of paintbrushes, students like Ian discover the artistic joys and technical expertise of bringing a stage set to life. Through two of the courses taught by professor Brian Reed, students not only learn about the design skills and technology that are foundational to the entertainment world—they apply them to real productions, too.
In his Introduction to Design and Technology class, Ian learned the basic information about scenery, lighting, and costumes for the theatre, movies, and television. He also spent two hours a week working in the scenic studio with Professor Reed.
In his stage lighting course, Ian learned the theory and practice of illuminating a performance. After completing several lighting design projects on paper and with specialized computer software during the course, students can serve as lighting technicians for faculty-directed productions and as designers for student productions. This combination of classroom learning and practical experience can better prepare students for their professional careers.
Arranged as a directed study, this course is the capstone experience for all Theatre and Communication Arts majors. Each student completes a major project either in directing, acting, design, technical production, stage management, or critical research.
The project entails both analytical and creative endeavors and results in some kind of public presentation or performance. Students also document their work on the projects justifying the choices and/or conclusions they make.