Here at the University of Illinois we pride ourselves in offering both MFA and BFA degrees in Lighting Design where each program offers every student the opportunity to express oneself to become a professional Lighting Designer. Through our program each student will gain a true mentorship experience that combines classroom lectures and training alongside the many hours of actual hands-on practical opportunities. Inside the walls of the expansive Krannert Center for the Performing Arts you will be working with the latest technology in lighting systems and fixtures including various LED and moving lights. Within each of our venues, students will get to work on various shows including theatre, musical theatre, dance and opera where we have a unique partnership with Illinois Theatre, Dance at Illinois and the School of Music’s opera program - Lyric Theatre. Students also will be immersed in an environment of shows with opportunities to work side by side with other students and faculty, guest directors and professional designers from New York, Chicago and beyond.
How We Teach and What You Learn
As continuing professional lighting designers ourselves, having worked On-Broadway, Off-Broadway and in many of the top regional theatres across the country, we bring to the classroom current knowledge of the art of lighting design, which includes up-to-date technologies in terms of equipment trends, including the latest in LED technology, control consoles and dimming systems. As faculty members and advisors our jobs do not stop in the classroom. We have a strong mentoring system set in place for every production we do within the walls of the Krannert Center and beyond. Throughout the entire design, tech and dress rehearsal process we are right there beside you making sure that each show has a healthy and productive process for the entire team.
Within the classroom students will gain knowledge in all aspects of lighting design including studying the qualities of light (Intensity, Color, Distribution and Movement), electricity and lighting systems, Vectorworks Spotlight computer-aided drafting software, Lightwright software, script analysis, cueing techniques, trouble shooting, problem solving, collaboration and advanced color theory just to name a few. By the end of your residency here as a student it is our goal to have you ready to compete with other designers in the entertainment industry. We also take great pride in fine-tuning each of our student’s resumes and portfolios in order to get ready for the many design competitions and conferences that we recommend that every student attend.
The Classroom as Lighting Laboratories
In order for our students to gain the knowledge necessary to design in any of our three main stage venues in addition to the Armory Theatre, we have created two lighting laboratories within the Digital Media Design Lab. The larger of the two labs uses the same lighting technology and fixtures as would be available in our actual theatres. It consists of approximately 40-50 lighting fixtures and (24) 2.4kw ETC dimmers. This lab is primarily used as a place to re-create scenes from various theatrical pieces which gives students the opportunity to experiment with color, texture, angle and cueing. The smaller of the two labs is the 6:1 Scale Mini Light Lab, which gives the students more opportunities to experiment with color, texture, cueing in addition to being able to light actual scenic models for presentation and learning purposes. This lab is also equipped with (24) 600w dimmers, (12) mini ERS fixtures, (12) MR-16 Pars, (8) 3-1/2” Fresnels, (5) moving mirrored lights and various LED cyc wash fixtures.
The Designer and the Technician
Whether you are an MFA or BFA student you will get to work on countless shows in various positions including: Lighting Designer, Assistant Lighting Designer, Master Electrician, Assistant Master Electrician, Electrician, Light Board Programmer and Follow Spot Operator. We have also on many occasions allowed our lighting students to serve as Projection Designers depending on the needs of each production.
The Master of Fine Arts Program
Every MFA candidate in Lighting Design must be in residency for 6 semesters and will most likely be rewarded a Lighting Assistantship to cover the majority of tuition costs. It is our goal to give each student an opportunity to design in each of our three main stage venues including the 979 seat Tryon Festival Theatre, the 678 seat Colwell Playhouse or the flexible 200 seat/max Studio Theatre black box space. Because of the large number of shows we produce each year, every MFA Lighting Design candidate will design between 4-6 main stage shows while they are in residence.
The Bachelor of Fine Arts Program
Every BFA candidate in Lighting Design will be given assignments to work in various capacities on all of the numerous shows that we produce at the Krannert Center. In addition, BFA students will have many opportunities to design for the Armory Free Theatre, which is the primary site for student driven productions of experimental theatre and original works. Before graduating from the program, each BFA student should be fully equipped in order to be rewarded with a design on the main stage roster at the Krannert Center. Other design assignments also include Studio Dance Performances that are presented within the Studio Theatre at the Krannert center.
For further information about any of our lighting design programs, please download one of the sample curriculums below or contact:Robert Perry Chair, Lighting Design Program