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Master of Fine Arts in Scenography

What Is Scenography?

The Scenography Program at the University of Kansas has two philosophical principles at its core:

The Scenography program is based on the premise that theatrical designers in the 21st century must be conversant with all areas of theatre design. Thus, there is one unified course of study in all areas rather than separate programs in set, costume, and lighting design. The aim is to find the areas of commonality and intersection among the separate disciplines. Students master a larger palette of contemporary design possibilities based on the unique seeing process of the age.

Second, the program is based on the premise that metaphor is the true language of the theatre and of theatrical design. Through a series of carefully structured projects, both in the classroom and on the stage, the program provides students the opportunity to develop the critical and artistic skills that will allow them to create design ideas that go beyond the literal surface of the play into spatial and visual arrangements that are dynamic, resonant, and poetic.

Why Scenography?

"The business of workers in the theatre is, as I see it, to express a timeless theme by means of the tools of one's own time." 

When Robert Edmond Jones penned that line he was thinking of the new perceptions of his time that were changing the way people viewed the world. And the history of the theatre is the history of the evolution of new ways of seeing and representing the human condition. The invention of perspective drawing in the Renaissance ushered in a new style of stage design that reflected the "reality" of that age, and the painted perspective vistas of the Bibienna's were "real" to the Renaissance eye. "Reality" is, however, a shifting construct, and every age defines it anew.

In the 21st century our Scenography program constantly analyzes the evolving visual vocabulary of the present age, and attempts to find metaphoric ways to apply new ways of visual thinking to the design of the contemporary stage space.


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