SUNY Oswego offers live event minor

Theatrical skills -- The SUNY Oswego theatre department will offer a new minor in live event design starting this fall, presenting students in other majors the opportunity to develop skills such as lighting design, stage management, makeup and costuming for live presentations in such careers as business, broadcasting, museums and education. Here, student Jesse Lesnar (center) and theatre department facilities manager Suzayn McKenzie-Roy (right) scale ladders to help with the setup of the Acting Company’s performances in the college’s Waterman Theatre this spring.
Theatrical skills — The SUNY Oswego theatre department will offer a new minor in live event design starting this fall, presenting students in other majors the opportunity to develop skills such as lighting design, stage management, makeup and costuming for live presentations in such careers as business, broadcasting, museums and education. Here, student Jesse Lesnar (center) and theatre department facilities manager Suzayn McKenzie-Roy (right) scale ladders to help with the setup of the Acting Company’s performances in the college’s Waterman Theatre this spring.

SUNY Oswego’s theatre department is offering a new minor in live event design, which can lead to potential careers in lighting, effects, stage management, makeup, sound design and multimedia to enhance special events of all kinds.

“A lot of us in the department know people and are friends with people who started in theatre and then made their careers outside the theatre using technical theatrical skills,” said Jessica Hester, theatre department chair.

For example, she said, “friends of mine work in a corporate events setting.”

Live events — rock concerts, political rallies, broadcasts, museum exhibitions, educational demonstrations, trade shows and other promotional events — often demand skills traditionally honed in theatre, Hester said.

Job duties in such events can include production and stagecraft of all kinds, from carpentry to sound design.

The live event design minor consists of a variety of classes, from core courses such as “Introduction to Technical Theatre” and “Advanced Theatre Production” to such skills-driven elective courses as “Stage Electronics and Mechanics” and “Computer Applications for Theatre” and classes in traditional crafts such as lighting design, costuming and makeup.

“It’s easy to think of fine and performing arts as these discrete fields that make culture worthwhile,” Hester said. But, she noted, theatre skills transferable to other fields can enhance the future employability of students whose major field of study is not theatre.

Hester said the department expects to attract students to the new minor from major programs as diverse as broadcasting, technology education, business, music and visual arts.

“Our students in theatre and design technical fields consistently graduate and find jobs,” Hester said.

Outstanding Oswego alumni working in theatre technical arts include Brian Ronan, who has won Tony Awards for sound design for Broadway musical hits “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” and “The Book of Mormon,” and Jef Billings, an Emmy-winning costume designer who has worked with a variety of productions including “Stars on Ice,” designing costumes for figure skaters Kristi Yamaguchi, Katarina Witt, Sarah Hughes and Scott Hamilton. 

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