Fundamentals of Theatrical Design
December 6, 2011

Fundamentals of Theatrical Design

by Karen Brewster and Melissa Shafer

Allworth Press, 2011


In a Nutshell: A thorough textbook that defines elements of design with exercises to implement them into your own productions.


As a dance teacher, you’ve worn multiple hats—role-switching from choreographer to lighting technician, costume maker or set designer. Next time you’re faced with unfamiliar territory, Fundamentals of Theatrical Design can give you a leg up. Written by East Tennessee State University associate professor of theater Karen Brewster and scenic lighting designer/technical director Melissa Shafer, this 284-page text (including an index and a 42-page appendix with glossary, light-design graphics charts and design guides) is primarily geared toward theater productions. But the step-by-step breakdown of the design process makes it a great resource for any director.


Beginning with a guide to analyzing and understanding a work in order to make valid design choices, the text then defines production elements and lays out design principles and visual composition. A chapter on collaboration is especially helpful when working with a team of professionals—how can you communicate and relay your ideas to designers in a clear and understandable fashion? Finally, the text offers the basics of lighting design (types of lights, rig layouts and color theory), costume design (figure drawing, fabric types, renting, implementation and building) and scenic design (defining space, making technical drawings, models and backdrops). And every chapter ends with four or five exercises to aid in each step of the design process.


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