Perpich News

Backstage Center Stage Workshop Focuses on Theater Tech & Design

June 28, 2023

Perpich Center for Arts Education hosted an in-person one-day tech/design workshop for theater educators and directors in Brainerd, MN at the beautiful Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts on June 27, 2023. The target audience for the workshop was K-12 and College/University Theater Educators, Directors, Tech Directors, Music Directors, Arts Educators, and others who work with educational theater or performing arts programs and would like to learn more about technical and design elements of the process. It was an intensive workshop day combining hands-on training in technology and design skills, opportunities to expand assessment and curriculum practices, conversations to spark thinking about working in collaboration with designers, and opportunities to ask the experts about challenging tech/design questions. Attendees deepened their tech/design toolbox with practical tools for application in classrooms and theater spaces. They were inspired by the gorgeous facilities, equipment, and expertise of the technical directors and leadership at the Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts, as well as from theater educators, directors, tech directors, and administrators from the region. And of course, the day was a wonderful opportunity to connect with other theater educators and directors from across the state!

“We were thrilled to be able to offer our second ever Backstage Center Stage Workshop, focused on the technical and design elements of theater and the performing arts for K-12 educators from across the state at the gorgeous Gichi-ziibi Center for the Arts in Brainerd this week!”, said Dr. Stephanie Lein Walseth, Theater Education Specialist. “We know that the field of K-12 theater educators in Minnesota is vast and spans a wide spectrum – from those who may have advanced degrees in theater and decades of teaching experience, to those who have had to step into the role of directing (or tech directing or designing) after seeing a play once. As such, we programmed workshop sessions to cover that range of knowledge and experience, from basic 101 sessions to advanced offerings. Bringing arts educators together to connect with one another, build their skills, affirm what they know, and spark new insights and creativity is such a joy! We are especially grateful to our hosts and presenters, Tim Catlett and Mike Smith, as well as the guest presenters and all of the educators who carved time out of their summers to attend. We look forward to more opportunities like this in the near future!”

When asked about their biggest “ah-ha” moment from the day, one participant noted, “I really appreciate the simplification of the process of tech with show production. I think that it is something that I will personally shy away from because I don’t feel like I have a strong enough background in it, but it was reinforced multiple times that you do not need that big of a background, and more that you are just helping the audience’s imagination.”

This workshop was hosted by the Perpich Center for Arts Education Professional Development and Resource Programs team, and was FREE for participants. Upon completion, certificates for 6 Clock Hours were available.

Stephanie Lein Walseth, Ph.D. is a theater educator, artist, administrator, and scholar with over 20 years experience working with students and artists of all ages. She is a founding core artistic group member of Full Circle Theater Company, and she has served tenures with Penumbra Theatre Company, Mu Performing Arts, Mixed Blood Theatre, and Sod House Theater, among many other professional companies in Minnesota and across the country. Stephanie received her Ph.D. in Theatre Historiography from the University of Minnesota, and her research focuses on theaters of color and issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. She has served as an instructor and curriculum developer at Augsburg University, the University of Minnesota, and Penumbra. Her writing has appeared in HowlRound, Theatre Topics, e-misférica, The Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance, and the anthology Theater, Performance and Change.