James Madison University, School of Theatre and Dance Is an Accredited
Member of the National Association of
Schools of Theatre and the National
Association of Schools of Dance

 James Madison University
 School of Theatre and Dance
 147 Warsaw Avenue, MSC 5601
 Harrisonburg, VA 22801


Design Opportunities

Mainstage Scenery Design

While faculty members and professional guest designers design most of our mainstage shows, we pride ourselves at allowing students work towards the honor of being selected to design scenery for a mainstage show on their own. 

Depicted in the photo: Crystal Munson, Class of 2005 working as a design assistant. She went on to design Shakespeare's R&J on our mainstage!

Want to go for it? Here are the specific steps: 

  1. Prepare yourself by seeing lots of shows, both in the department and outside in a variety of professional venues.
  2. Complete the basic coursework (with distinction) in the area of stage design and technology, including:
    1. THEA 171. Performance Production
    2. THEA 273. Visual Aspects
    3. THEA 376. Scene Design (usually offered in the spring)
    4. THEA 200 or 300. Theatre Practicum
  3. Gain experience working with us in the scene shop. Consider working first as a member of our paid shop staff. The more experience you have working in the shops going in, the easier it will be to assume the role of designer.
  4. Serve as Assistant Designer to a faculty member on a mainstage show
  5. Undertake a directed study project to design a selected show as training and preparation to design a show in actual practice.
  6. At some point in this process, make your goal of designing a show for our mainstage season known to the design faculty so that they may provide appropriate mentoring.

For further information or to partake of this opportunity, please contact:

Professor Richard Finkelstein

Oedipus Variations, with scenery designed by Jimmy Lawlor a graduating Senior,
Class of 2006

Mainstage Lighting Design

Here at JMU, faculty and guest designers comprise the large portion of our mainstage Lighting Designers but we pride ourselves on allowing students the prestige of designing a mainstage show of their own.  

Feel like you want to be a Lighting Designer?  Hereís are some things to do to help you on your way!  

1:  See a LOT of shows-both in the department and outside in the professional world.  Itís important to see what other designers are doing.

2:  Complete the basic coursework in the area of stage design and technology, including:

  • THEA 171 Performance Production

  • THEA 273 Visual Aspects

  • THEA 200 or 300-Practicum in Lighting

  • THEA 374 Lighting Design

3:  Gain hands on experience by working in the electrics shop and attending hang and focus calls throughout the semester.  Consider working first as a paid shop assistant-the more hands on experience you have with lighting, the better!

4:  Complete an assignment as Master Electrician on a mainstage show.  This ensures that you know all the ins and outs of our theatre and what it takes to put up a show.  You should also complete an assignment at Assistant Lighting Designer for a faculty member, guest designer or another student.  This is the best way to get to watch the designer at work and get ideas for your own show.  You will also learn the organizational and creative structures in place here at JMU.

5:  Let the design faculty know of your interest in designing.  We canít choose you for a show if you donít let us know youíd like to design!!

6:  Agree to have a faculty mentor for your mainstage design.  This gives you someone who has not only a lot of experience but is looking out for your interests as well!  

Still Interested?  For further information, contact Emily Becher, Assistant Professor of Lighting Design  Office:  Theatre 2, Room 18  Phone:  568-4001  email:  becheree@jmu.edu