In recent years, the explosive growth of the international theatre circuit combined with the increasing technical complexity of contemporary productions created a whole new category of designers. The demand for experienced designers, who can recreate a large stage production accurately and keep up with the changes, has evolved far beyond the more traditional role of assistant into a classification known more commonly as associate designer.
TCI brought together some of these designers to discuss the role of the associate and their working relationships with the principal designer and other members of the production team.
Campbell Baird was principal assistant and associate designer to the late Oliver Smith on Jerome Robbins' Broadway, the Joffrey Ballet production of The Nutcracker, the out-of-town tryout of the comedy Peccadillo, and revivals of West Side Story. On his own, he has designed for Oregon Ballet Theatre, American Repertory Ballet, and the Joffrey Ballet, where he has been design supervisor. He is also resident designer for Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, NY, and teaches in the design program at New York University.
Dawn Chiang has most recently worked as associate designer to Richard Pilbrow on the Broadway shows Four Baboons Adoring the Sun, Show Boat, and Busker Alley; with Pilbrow, she codesigned Tango Pasion. She was associate to Jules Fisher on La Cage aux Folles. She also designed the Broadway production of Zoot Suit, worked for two seasons as resident lighting designer at New York City Opera, and has designed for a number of resident theatres.
Dana Kenn has worked as assistant scenic designer to David Mitchell on Biloxi Blues, The Boys of Winter, and Harrigan & Hart; to Tony Walton on Anything Goes, The Front Page, and The House of Blue Leaves; to John Napier on various productions of Miss Saigon and Sunset Boulevard; and to Stan Meyer on the US tours of Beauty and the Beast. She has been associate designer to Maria Bjornson on numerous productions of The Phantom of the Opera and to Tony Walton on the Madison Square Garden production of A …