Using Technology to Set the Stage


Martin Sachs
Professor and Chair, Department of Theatre & Dance


Students within the Department of Theatre and Dance utilize technology in a variety of ways. One of the more prevalent areas can be seen in the design/tech courses. Most design students, after learning how to hand draft, move on to CAD (computer aided drafting) to develop their ideas into what will become realized productions or “paper projects.” Today’s software, such as Vectorworks Inc., allows not only the ability to replicate what one used to do by hand, but create virtual 3-dimensional sets complete with lighting, to show the director, actors, and other designers. These creations can be extremely life-like, down to the most minute details.

Lighting design students can then take these computer-generated virtual environments and add their own design elements, which can include color and intensity of the lights, textures like leaf patterns, etc., the same as they would with the lights they will eventually hang and focus on the final set. They can also create a lighting design that “talks” to the lighting control board and develop lighting “looks” without having to actually hang the lights in the theatre. This way, they can see what colors, directions, and textures work best before actually creating it for real in the theatre.

"CAD has been phenomenal in allowing me to technically communicate my designs to directors. It has also allowed me to draft vastly complex objects that previously would have been a nightmare to draft by hand."
 - Hannah Lax, MFA Scenic & Costume Design

The department's costume design and costume technology classes will soon be utilizing similar software that will give our students the ability to create and print their own costume patterns for the costumes that need to be built by the shop for a production.

Our dance program has a series of courses on Choreography and Media, where students learn how to integrate video into their dance compositions and choreography or create dance specifically for the camera. As part of their training, they learn not only how to shoot the video, but how to edit it.

From editing digital audio for both theatre and dance productions, to designing sets and costumes, Tulane School of Liberal Arts theatre and dance students use cutting edge technology to advance their technical and creative endeavors.

Vlad Ghinea
Technical Director and Professor of Practice in Theatre and Dance Vlad Ghinea instructs students on the latest technology in the McWilliams Hall design studio.
lighting scenarios generated by computer designed by a student
A student-designed computer generated sample of lighting scenarios for a theatrical set.