Get to Know Scenic Designer Britton Mauk, Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre Monday, January 28, 2019
"My professional experience is what makes me a valuable instructor. The theater is an ever-changing industry. So, I try to bring in examples of productions I have worked on to allow the students to have tangible references as they are learning about a specific topic."
What inspired your passion for scenic design?
My passion for scenic design began growing up and going to Broadway at Music Circus with my aunt in Sacramento every summer. It developed into a love specifically for scenic design because of my high school drama teacher who saw my interest and told me to go for it. Coming from an artistic family, the leap to scenic design was not a hard one to make. Scenic design becoming my passion was a natural process. I truly enjoy every part of creating the visual world of a play. Being a part of capturing an audience's attention is a wonderful art to be a part of.
How do you incorporate your professional experience into the courses you teach at Point Park?
My professional experience is what makes me a valuable instructor. The theater is an ever-changing industry. So, I try to bring in examples of productions I have worked on to allow the students to have tangible references as they are learning about a specific topic. I have also used current productions I am working on as projects within the classroom, giving the students the opportunity to learn in real time as I or my colleagues are working on a show. In addition to class time, I always love to be able to hire students as assistants for designs that I am working on.
What’s it like teaching the next generation of scenic designers in the new Pittsburgh Playhouse?
It is an exciting time for the program in the first year at the new Pittsburgh Playhouse. We are all learning together the ins and outs of these new spaces. It is great to know the students are now working in spaces that are up to date with the technology they will be using in the industry. Teaching future designers and technicians in spaces like these make me that much more sure they will graduate here confident and prepared.
Britton Mauk shares the set concept for
Old Man and the Sea
Tell us about your role in the world premiere stage adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea at the Playhouse.
As the scenic designer, I had the exciting opportunity to help bring to life one of Hemmingway's most iconic works.
The process started with finding images that evoked the feeling of the play rather than focusing on the realistic nature of the locale. After gathering images to inspire and react from, I started to create the visual balance to support, enrich and guide the production as a whole.
The set design flexed as the script was updated through the beginning of the process. Finally landing on a set design that provided the balance between, the ever-important skiff for the Old Man Santiago, a cohesive surface for media to project upon and a suitable arrangement for Hemmingway to create his work before us.
What types of projects can a student expect to work on in your classes?
Common projects that I assign range from scenic design-focused projects, drafting or even professional preparation. A student may be assigned to set design the play Eurydice by Sara Ruhl within one of the new Playhouse spaces. A paper project that encourages thinking outside of the box – allowing the student to explore their imagination, their craft in model making and their storytelling through design. While a project in professional preparations would be focused around creating their portfolio and learning how to best market themselves once they graduate.
What have you enjoyed most about teaching at Point Park?
I enjoy teaching at Point Park because of the students and the staff/faculty. The students are passionate and are promising young theater makers and I truly enjoy being a part of their journey.
In the News
- "12 People to Meet in 2018," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2018.
- "6 Theatre Workers You Should Know," American Theatre, 2017.