BU’s BFA scene design program aims to bring out an individual’s unique artistic passion and viewpoint on how they want to make theatre. Each student’s individuality and skill level are taken into consideration in all projects and work done.
Scene design students get to work with faculty who are current professionals in the field and collaborate with other theatre design students, acting students, playwriting students, and more. They demonstrate an ability to enrich creative storytelling and take artistic risks. They aren’t just “building sets,” because as James Noone, CFA associate professor and program head of BU’s scene design program, says, “To me, the term ‘building a set’ is fake and artificial. Instead, we try to create a space that allows a story to be heard.”
Program of Study
Before officially declaring a BFA Design & Production major, each first year student entering the BU School of Theatre is admitted into the First Year Design & Production Core. The First Year Core experience establishes a base vocabulary that serves as the foundation for a student’s progression into their chosen BFA degree program. In addition, the First Year Core is designed to provide an appropriate context for faculty evaluation of each student’s strengths, interests, and potential for success in the upper years of training. At the end of the first year, each student will declare a BFA major; these decisions are reviewed and mentored by members of the School of Theatre faculty before a student is officially enrolled in their BFA program.
Training includes a rigorous curriculum in all aspects of the artistic, practical, and technical skills needed to be a scene designer, along with guidance in collaboration and a strong appreciation of dramatic literature.
Students are regularly mentored by the scene design faculty at BU, comprised of professional designers who work regularly in all facets of theatre, in the classroom, weekly colloquium, hands-on production advising, and end-of-semester conferences.
The average class size consists of four students. Classes are taught in our state-of-the-art classrooms, model-making studio, undergraduate design studio, drawing and painting studio, and scene painting shop.
Situated within a large, top-tier research institution, students pursue coursework in the University Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the undergraduate student experience. This provides students with the chance to dive into other topics, from other colleges and schools, to enhance their studies.
Meet Danielle DeLaFuente (CFA’22) a BFA Theatre, Scene Design alum who gained a variety of skills through her many different roles as a student, employee, and peer mentor during her time at BU. “Academically and artistically, BU has supported my endeavors within the school and with extracurriculars,” says Danielle.
As an undergraduate student, Danielle had the opportunity to scene design the School of Theatre’s production of Colossal by Andrew Hinderaker and directed by professor Yo-EL Cassell. “It was an honor and joy to tell this beautiful show and be a part of the process from the very beginning to now. Colossal tells the story of a young football player whose life is forever changed after a football injury. It is a play about healing, expression, sexuality, and acceptance. The entire team worked hard to bring the game to Booth Theater.”
[Seen at Booth Theatre] Danielle’s work in action
BFA scene design students participate in a wide variety of practical production experiences. These experiences include designing, assistant designing, scenic painting, and properties. Scene design majors gain interpretive and technical skills, demonstrate an ability to enrich creative storytelling, and get to engage with diverse communities as theatre artists.
Students work directly with the scene design faculty, which is comprised of professional designers who work regularly in all facets of theatre including Broadway, Off-Broadway, Opera, Regional, as well as Boston and International Theatre.
Develop professional skills through production work, internships, and mentored work and design that will serve as a basis for your transition from the academic world to the larger community of theatre professionals. Participate in SOT’s annual Theatre Showcase that takes place in Boston or New York City. The event serves as a celebration of the graduating class and the group’s formal introduction to the professional theatre community.
Senior Lecturer, Scene Painting
Associate Professor, Scenic Design; Program Head-Scenic Design; Co-Chair Design and Production Program
BFA Design & Production Recruitment Administrator; Assistant Professor, Scene Design
Lecturer, Scene Design
Meet BU’s Scene Design Program Head
Working as a scene designer since 1983, James Noone’s teaching is informed by his extensive work on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in regional theatre, and with many major opera companies across America, as well as in national tours and on television. As program head of BU’s scene design programs and associate professor of scene design, Noone’s impact has made the program rank nationally as a top theatre design degree.
In CFA’s Faculty Feature series, Noone defines what scene design means in the present day, why an aspiring scene designer should pursue their studies at BU, and what makes an excellent scene design applicant.
“We want students who are interested in examining the world around them, who have an interest in design but really are more interested in the theatre they can make, and the stories that they can tell. I tell my students that the field of scenic design can feel like it puts us in a box when really, we’re people who make theatre. Our job is to create the space that allows the story to be told in, but we have to be as involved in the entire story and its purpose as much as everyone else.“
Our BU scene design faculty are recipients of prestigious awards like the Drama Desk Award, Helen Hayes Award, American Theatre Wing Design Award, Outer Critics Circle Nomination, Lucille Lortel Award Nomination, Los Angeles Ovation Award, IRNE Award, Elliott Norton Award, and Broadway World Award.
Next Steps for Applicants
The best way to determine if BU is right for you is to explore our admission requirements, financial tools, and resources.
Reach out to our Director of Admissions at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions along the way. We are happy to discuss your educational interests and career goals.