New Design Head at SUNY Purchase The Conservatory of Theatre Arts & Film at Purchase College, State University of New York has named Daniel Hanessian as director of the Professional Training Program in Entertainment Design/Technology. Hanessian will be working with faculty of professional designers and technicians whose work includes Broadway, Off Broadway, regional theatre, opera, dance, industrials, film, TV, and themed entertainment.
"This incredible faculty brings into their courses up-to-date knowledge of what's happening on the stages and sets of world-class productions," says Hanessian. "I don't think any other college can quite match the kind of training experience Purchase offers students in design/technology," he says. "With the quality of our faculty, mix of programs, and our proximity to New York City - we're only 35 minutes north - Purchase is a `real world' experience."
According to Hanessian, the conservatory-style training program isn't just about graduating people. "To make it through this program, students have to prove to the faculty that they not only have the creative and technical skills that are necessary, but that they are serious about having a career in the entertainment world," he says. "The world doesn't need another mediocre designer or technician. What it does need are smart, creative, and sophisticated people who can work collaboratively with the other members of a production team, and that is what we strive for here."
As for changes, Hanessian says one of the great strengths of the Purchase program is that it has always evolved and stayed current with what is going on in the outside world. "This is in no small part due to the fact that the faculty continue to work professionally outside of this program," he says. "They stay current, and in turn keep the program up to date. It's `real-time' training."
One change Hanessian sees as inevitable is the continuous incorporation of more computer-based technologies. "Freshmen in college today have grown up with computers. They're at home with the technology, and that's a plus and a minus at the same time. Many 17-year-olds are already `computer-dependent' - give them a pencil and pad of paper, and they're a little lost. Students who go through this program must develop the conceptual and creative understanding of what it takes to be a designer, technical director, or stage manager. This is absolutely essential and most of it is not computer-related," Hanessian says.
"You can master a sophisticated software program like AutoCAD or Photoshop, but that doesn't make you a master designer. There are many brilliant people succeeding in this industry who aren't using computers," he continues. "But will this be true in 10 or 20 years? Computer skills aren't going to replace the fundamental skills it takes to succeed in this industry, but more and more, they are going to become necessary if you want to succeed in this field."
Hanessian will be working with a faculty that includes: Andrea Anthony, Patton Campbell, Michael J. Cesario, Michael Cioffi, Richard Costabile, Lana Fritz, David Grill, Judi Guralnick, James Knight, Brian MacDevitt, Ina Mayhew, Gene O'Donovan, Dennis Parichy, Atkin Pace, Elizabeth Popiel, Kenneth Posner, Hal Tine, Mark Viola, and John Yuille. Guest lecturers include Franco Colavecchia, Patrick Fahey, David Finley, Carol Lukin, Domingo Rodriguez, Pat Quinn Stuart, and Fred Voelpel.