THEA 407 Scene Design W-F 11:00-12:15

Ron Naversen 2230 Communications 453-3076



The goal of this course is to introduce the student to the basic design processes related to scenery for the theater, including a working knowledge of the elements and principles of visual design, script analysis, period research, theatre graphics, historic set designers, theories of design, and the presentation of design ideas and concepts. The course also aims to familiarize the student with dramatic literature by assigning plays written from a variety of periods and countries.



1) Water color brushes and paints, drafting equipment, drafting vellum (not tracing paper), cold press illustration board or heavyweight watercolor paper.

2) Attendance is mandatory (see Departmental Attendance Policy in student handbooks). You cannot learn if you are not here and your fellow students are deprived of your insights and contributions.

3) Attendance at Department of Theater productions. You are part of a theater community and as such should exposing yourself to the work of others to expand your appreciation of the art and craft. We will also make reference to the design work during class.

4) Assigned Readings


Required Readings

Learning to Look: A Handbook for the Visual Arts. Joshua C. Taylor

The Dramatic Imagination. Robert Edmond Jones

Plays and articles as assigned.



Assigned projects are designed to teach specific aspects of a scene designer's job requirements. Projects progress in difficulty requiring the students to capitalize on the work they have done before. Therefore it is essential that the student keep up with the work. Projects will be graded the week they are due. Students will have the opportunity to raise their grades by reworking projects and turning them in during finals week. Late projects will be reduced one letter grade, which cannot be raised if a project is resubmitted at the end of the semester. Students are graded individually on their ability to grasp basic functions and aesthetics of scenic design as well as demonstrated growth and development of their graphic skills.


Projects & Percentages

10% Class Participation

10% Element Thumbnails exercise

10% Watercolor Exercise

A given thumbnail will be transferred into watercolor medium and rendered twice in " scale, once to suggest a comic style and second a serious style.

15% The Boar by Anton Chekhov

Written 100 word/ 50 word Analysis, Metaphor, Floor plan, Sectional Elevation. Period Research, & Perspective Rendering

15% Medea by Euripides (Robinson Jeffers adaptation)

Scene/Title Study, Collage Imagery/Assemblage, Floor plan, Perspective Sketches or 1/8 or 1/4" Models.

10% Oral Research Reports into the work, history, & design philosophy of period and modern scenic designers.

Visual examples are required. Each report should be approximately 20 minutes. The class will first report on period designers & then on modern designers.

Reports will be given in chronological order.

15% Shakespeare/Elizabethan

Period research into theater practices, architecture & decoration: 1/8 or 1/4" Faux Perspective Thumbnails & Floor plans for each scene

15% TBA

Perspective rendering & Front Elevations, Paint Elevations & Prop List/ or or Colored Model, Front Elevations & Prop List


Report Suggestions

Period Designers Modern Designers

Sebastian Serlio Jo Melziner

The family Bibiena Mordecai Gorelik

Inigo Jones Donald Oenslager

Adolph Appia Ming Cho Lee

Edward Gordon Craig Santo Loquasto

Boris Aronson

Joseph Svoboda

Julie Taymor


Additional Reading Sources:

Scenery for the Theater Burris-Meyer, & Cole.

Designing & Drawing for the Theater Pecktal, Lyn.

Designing & Painting for the Theater Pecktal, Lyn.

Scene & Lighting Design for Theater Parker & Wolf.

The Scenic Imagination Payne, Darwin.

Theory and Craft of the Sceonographic Model Payne, Darwin.

American Set Design Arnold Aronson.

American Set Design 2 Ronn Smith.


Individuals who have any disability, either permanent or temporary, which might affect their ability to execute projects in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the beginning of the semester. The instructor will adapt the class for these individuals as necessary. The instructor reserves the right to alter the course content to benefit the class.