An education in Architecture and Design can lead in many different directions. Designing buildings, city infrastructure projects, aesthetic details, and electrical systems are all some of the aspects WHSAD students learn in their classes. But when students see how their design educations can mesh with the concepts they study in a class outside the architecture and design realm, they recognize how diverse the future possibilities could be. One such instance occurred when Senior English teacher, Mr. James Powers, developed activities that had students constructing set designs for the play they have been reading: Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.
Some students really took their work to another level and garnered the opportunity to attend a trip to the Park Avenue Armory to meet a professional set designer, Christine Jones. Ms. Jones has designed sets for productions such as American Idiot, Spring Awakening, and, most recently, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, in London. During the trip, students received insight as to the work involved in designing elaborate sets for such high-profile productions. Below, two students who attended provide their thoughts regarding what they learned from the day.
Learning from Christine Jones has taught me a lot about being a scenic designer. One of those things is that there is a lot of teamwork involved. There can be a lot of agreements and disagreements, but, in the end, everything will be completed at a high level of expertise.
Another important lesson gained from meeting Ms. Jones was to get an idea of what to incorporate on the stage. You have to do a lot of research ranging from reading related books from various libraries to doing some online research. Christine Jones’ strategy, by reading and forming a long paragraph, then refining it to a short paragraph, a poem, or even just a phrase of a few words to capture the essence of the show, she explained, was unique to her own creative process.
– Kevin Mares, Class of 2018
I witnessed a presentation shown and well-spoken by Christine Jones. She spoke about the different concepts she uses in her works. I was able to see how her masterpieces fell into place through her process from start to finish.
She broke down every element of design from her perspective. It was aesthetically pleasing to see her work, and her process, portrayed right in front of us. With each example shown, she provided an in-depth narration of how and why she did the things that she did leading up to a final product that people from all over the world pay to see.
We were shown photos that, through rigorous research, came together to tell the story of the play from start to finish that would work as inspiration to other members of her team (sound, lighting, mechanics, choreographers etc.) to create the final product. The collage itself was whimsical and was well thought out.
She presented three individual sets that she has designed in her years of working as a set designer. They were Green Day: American Idiot, Spring Awakening, and ready to open this year Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
-Samantha Goldstein, Class of 2018