Projection designer Wendall K. Harrington will head the new projection concentration within the design department at the Yale School of Drama, as announced by Ming Cho Lee and Stephen Strawbridge, co-chairs. The program begins in the fall of 2010, as one of the first graduate theatre training programs of its kind in the United States.
"The use of projection in performance is expanding exponentially," says Harrington, who has taught at Yale since 2006. “The projected image is a powerful tool.Those designers at the forefront of this medium will have the opportunity and responsibility to encourage its eloquent use.”
Harrington points out that in addition to the well-established design programs for sets, lightings, costumes, and sound, students can now select projections as a major as well. “They might have a double major, taking the full program at Yale in addition to projections,” she says. “The lighting designers have to design costumes, for example, and sometimes people make discoveries about themselves, they get to switch it all up, it’s a fantastic program. There may be no other program in the US that also has so many production opportunities for the students to design, from the Yale Rep to the Cabaret and other options.”
While the program teaches such tools as Dataton’s Watchout and Photoshop, Harrington is more interested in media development and the art of projection design. “This is not really a technical program,” she states. “Our goal is to produce designers, but the tech kids in production management take my intro class as well. We are talking to Josh Weisberg at Scharff Weisberg about a possible partnership…he teaches a few times during the year in the technical program, so I can bring him into the art part as well…
“My goal is to have a lot of exposure for the kids to different kinds of people and media, Joshua White, who did that famous light shows in the 60s, comes up every year to teach,” explains Harrington. “The goal of the Yale program is to create theatre people who create good projections. I teach to all the design disciplines—everybody takes the intro class (even sound designers) as well as directors, and I teach an advanced class for those who want more experience. The majors will get a three-year concentration, with a lot more cinema studies and a lot more history. There is a lot to look at. It’s about the language of media, and how to translate that to the stage….I want to have people thinking about projections, and not just doing them. Become smart enough to say no when projections are not needed… an MFA is complete immersion in a subject, that’s what this is!”