It is my goal in my teaching to look for and develop the potential of each student.  Through practical and creative projects, I move students through an exploration of their talents, and help them to comprehend what effort needs to be put forth in order for them to reach and work in their true potential.   In order to help each student meet their goals and realize their potential, I prioritize critical

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   ANNMARIE DUGGAN    Lighting Designer    Educator    Portfolio    About                   

Lighting 2:   Shadow Project, Kelsey Keckler, LD

thinking, time management, creative expression, communication, and presentation skills.  When students effectively combine these skills, they are prepared to function successfully in academic  and professional theatre settings.  As a teacher of theatre, it is my responsibility to effectively prepare students for what will be expected of them in educational theatre, and to prepare them to make the transition into the a world beyond their BA.   I accomplish this in the classroom, and through mentoring and career counseling.  All three are important parts of my teaching philosophy.


Teaching and Classroom Work

My teaching journey with the student begins in the classroom; in this setting, I feel it is important for my expectations

to be both clear and high.  A theatre student should learn early on that, in the area of design and technology, much

will be expected of them, and expectations of perfection will always exist.  I bring into the classroom my own real-world

experience, and teach each class from that perspective. 


In Stage Management class, I lead the students through the process of Stage Management as if we, as a class, have just

been hired for the job of Stage Manager on a professional production.  I provide precise examples of the presentation

styles of the paperwork of an experienced, working Stage Manager.  I then encourage students to create their own style. 

Each student produces work at a professional level while also beginning a journey toward his or her own contribution

to the field.  In addition, I select readings from the most up-to-date books and articles, while also giving respect and attention to the history of the field.  These readings are designed to reinforce the lecture material, provide context for

the development of stage management, and also give current professional examples of problem-solving techniques.   Technology is always advancing in the world of stage management, and I want my students to be prepared to oversee any production from an intimate two-person show in a small blackbox to a mega-musical on Broadway.  A young Stage

Manager will one day have the welfare and safety of a cast of actors in their hands.  Our journey as teacher and student

is about making sure that they have the tools and the skills needed to complete that task with success. 


Lighting Design students have a different journey as they work toward becoming designers. I firmly believe that the foundation of creative expression in design comes from the experience of each individual.  In order to create light, you

must learn to see and experience light.  Then, using critical thinking skills, you must be able to communicate that

experience into a creative expression using technology combined with conceptual thinking about the content, action

and theme of a play.  I use other art forms to develop the student’s perceptions of light.  For example, an early project presented is “The Artist”.   Each student is given the name of an artist.  They must then research that artist and create

a fact sheet about the artist to present to the class.  The student provides examples of the artist’s work and as a class we discuss the art and the use of light within the art.  The student then uses the light lab to theatrically create the mood

of a chosen piece of art in three-dimensional space, from page to stage.  The class discusses how well the painting’s

mood is captured, discussing color, angle, intensity and movement. 


To develop the student’s own conceptual voice, I expand “The Artist” project into a study of what I call the psychology

of light.   In the “Shadow Project”, each student is given one of the seven deadly sins.  Using one actor the student

must light that actor in any pose or series of poses.  The designer must communicate the sin to the class using only a

visual vocabulary.   The student is responsible for controlling one of the shadows of the piece.  They must explain how, psychologically, the shadow adds understanding and clarity to the sin.  These two projects work toward helping the

student to understand how light perception, combined with the text of the script leads to the execution of a successful lighting design.  This must be coupled with the teaching of the highly technical aspects of lighting design and computer lighting programming.  Students must understand that they will become artists who create with the use of technology.

It is critical to make them comprehend that their level of competence with this technology will determine their success.  


Mentoring, Production Work and the World after the BA

Mentoring starts in the classroom.  In all fields of theatre study, skills of collaboration and communication are of major importance, since theatre is, by its very nature, a collaborative art form. Unlike other art forms, the creation of an individual’s art relies on the work of others.  Student must develop ways of working with each other toward the

common goal of the production.  One of the keys to success will be their style of communication, both on the

interpersonal level as well as with the production team as a whole.  My teaching reflects that for each course.  Group projects are often utilized to create an atmosphere of camaraderie and collaboration.  My observation of these projects

enables me to analyze the communication process of the students, and point out where weakness and strength lie. 

With this knowledge I can lead the students toward developing a strong and accurate communication style. 


After the completion of a course, the students and I then move into a more formal mentoring relationship.  The student

gets on-the-job training as well as continued instruction.  They are assigned to a fully realized project within the

Theatre Arts department.  This assignment is given based on the quality of their classroom work; those that meet or

exceed expectations will receive an assignment that reflects that.  Those students who had challenges will receive an

assignment that will help to move them through those challenges.  The area of mentorship is one where, as an

instructor, I must stay keenly attuned to each student. Students who may not have shown all of their potential in the classroom, will, in the process of this hands-on environment, exhibit a new side and a clearer path to their promise.  In

light of the newfound promise and (often) motivation that comes from production work, together the student and I

re-evaluate their course work to help them find the balance that is needed for a successful academic career.


Regular feedback is key to furthering the student’s progress toward growth.  The measurement of the outcome for each student in the classroom is laid out at the start of each project or assignment.  The student must produce at the

expected level, as well as demonstrate progress at working towards a professional and polished product that is portfolio worthy. Their course work is evaluated at the entry-level professional standard.  However, within the production process, a student’s work is evaluated at a higher level of professional experience.  Students are expected to take the classroom experience and add to that work enabling them to produce at a higher level.  Weekly mentoring meetings help to keep students on track and ensure that the quality of their work remains high.   Within artistic aspects of Lighting Design,

the evaluation of the student is based on how successful they have been at meeting the needs of the production

on stage.  Each production is led by a director who communicates the standards for the production.  Therefore, as a

mentor, I must evaluate the interpretation and execution of a design based on the information and direction the

student is given.


The final step of the journey for students is guidance through the process of acquiring their first job in the area of

theatre or entrance into a graduate program.  To do this, we work together on their resume and portfolio, putting

together a package that can be sent to potential employers or to graduate schools.  I also work with the students on research skills that will give them the abilities to find the jobs or schools that will be best to get them started on their

career path.


The teaching of theatre is both exhilarating and rewarding for me.  Students often select a major or minor in theatre without a clear understanding of how the field of theatre functions. It is a thrilling task to show them the possibilities within the profession.  Watching students with talent and passion work toward making this occupation their own

brings me great joy.  It is fulfilling to observe students, with intensity and certainty, pursue a career in theatre. 

Teaching in a field where practical, realized work is produced by students is a unique and rewarding occurrence; I see

first-hand how my classroom structure impacts the applied work of a student.  I often use the word “potential” with my students, as I want them to understand that a quest toward a career is a marathon not a sprint.  Those with the courage to seek their potential will have the most success.  My finest days of teaching are when a student rises to the occasion of

the situation at hand and conquers a fear or obstacle.  Teaching in the field of art, watching students gain confidence

and strength, while also impacting humanity -- it is a true privilege.


Teaching Statement