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Design & Technical Theatre

Students in Seattle Academy Design and Technical Theater classes explore the world of theater design and technology by bringing their personal basket of talents and human experience to our community storytelling and productions. We offer opportunities for students to design shows, work as part of our theatre crews, and regularly create opportunities for independent study projects, often with local professional theaters.

SAAS Design and Technical Theatre classes offer both Middle and Upper School students with the opportunity gain a broad overview or to “dive deep” into a subject.

Middle School

Middle School Technical Theatre: Students receive a generalist overview of technical theater skills including but not limited to: design and model making, lighting theory and electrics work, carpentry and construction, materials and safety, and scenic painting. Often students discover a love for technical theater in this class and go on to take the Upper School class or become regular volunteers on backstage crews.

Middle School Costume Design and Technology: Students collaboratively design a Middle School production and get to see their work brought to life by their peers onstage. They learn by doing: each step of the process is hands on, starting by reading the script and ending with striking the set. Along the way they build skills in script analysis, visual storytelling, drawing, sewing, and pattern making, and develop the ability to collaborate with their peer group in the problem solving and decision-making processes. Middle School Students in costume design are given the option to crew their show and apply their in-class learning to the backstage environment by supporting their peers in the acting program during performances.

Upper School

Upper School Technical Theatre: Students receive a generalist overview of technical theater skills including but not limited to: design and model making, lighting theory and electrics work, carpentry and construction, materials and safety, and scenic painting. Each student studying Technical Theater at the Upper School Level is required to participate as crew for one of the school productions. They take their skill based learning from the classroom and use it to gain hands on experience in producing a show.

Upper School Costume and Fashion Design: Upper School students explore costume and fashion design through hypothetical projects that are created in the half inch scale. The focus is on developing their own personal point of view using clothing as the form of visual communication as a way to express those views. Along the way students build skills in sewing, pattern making and problem solving. They learn to take risks, express their ideas, and to give credence to their classmates' points of view through the presentation of their work and peer critique.

Upper School Stage Management Program :
Students interested in focusing on Stage Management are supervised by our faculty and by a rotation of professional stage managers from the Seattle community that are hired to train and bolster student work. Students learn how to run rehearsals, maintain a show “dropbox” (the industry standard for online communication), manage backstage crews, create industry standard paperwork like a “calling script,” and eventually develop the skills required to call an entire large musical independently.

Upper School Independent Study: All students interested are given the opportunity to develop an independent study specific to their interests. Faculty mentor the students through these trimester long self-guided projects, and bring in other specialists from the community when students need additional resources and/or more challenge. Students have designed costumes for both main stage and black box shows, built complex costumes for productions, assisted professional lighting designers on main stage shows and created fashion designs, all as a part of independent study opportunities.

STAGE MANAGEMENT

Noah Sarkowsky '17 discovered he had a talent and interest in stage management. As he pursued his interest at professional theaters in Seattle, he became passionate about creating a program at SAAS where he could pass on those skills.  Supported by our faculty and staff he submitted a proposal to the department that resulted in the creation of a student lead program still operating today. Students that Noah mentored, like Esme Decoster '18, continue to pass on those professional level skills and are supervised by our faculty and by a rotation of professional stage managers from the Seattle community. 

Photo of Seattle Academy Design and Technical Theatre

Collaboration and Cross Disciplinary Learning

The Design and Technical Theatre curriculum epitomizes the art of collaboration and cross disciplinary learning.

Photo of Seattle Academy Design and Technical Theatre Program

Master Skills

Math and engineering, literary interpretation and analysis, and interpreting historical themes and context are all interwoven into the students’ experience as they build skills in the Design and Technical Theatre realm.

Photo of Seattle Academy Design and Technical Theatre Program

Call Your Own Show

Students learn how to run rehearsals, maintain a show “dropbox” (the industry standard for online communication), manage backstage crews, create industry standard paperwork like a “calling script” and eventually develop the skills required to call an entire large musical independently.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can students design shows themselves?

Yes they can! Once a student demonstrates skills in their chosen area we love to provide them with opportunities to take the lead. They can even create a whole program to support something they are interested in – the way one of our students created our stage management program.

Do the students in the classes create the things we see on stage?

In technical theater at both the Middle and Upper School level they help in the creation of the scenery and lighting. The Middle School costume design class is responsible for the design of an entire show's worth of costumes. The Upper School costume class does not create costumes for the school productions as it is a more conceptual visual arts based class.

Do you already have to know how to sew to take costume classes?

No, you learn as you go.

Can students design and make their own clothing in class?

We don’t currently have a class with this focus. However, students often make clothing in the advanced art class and textiles class by combining the skills they learn in costume design with the curriculum in visual arts. You can also sign up to do an independent study in the 11th or 12th grade. Students have built small wardrobes for themselves during independent study trimesters.