I am sitting in the freshman Design Technology studio at SUNY Purchase, a campus of the State University of New York. I am waiting for the Stagecraft final to begin. This time tomorrow, the studio will begin its transformation into a Christmas-themed party hall.
The folk motto "work hard, play hard" thrives here: the Design Technology program is renown for its vivacious parties. Our program is a major component of Purchase's strong Conservatory of Film & Theatre Arts. I spend half of my days rigging and moving decks in our inky black box theatre--the largest on the east coast.
The academics here are outstanding. Joel Brandwine, my Stagecraft professor, works full-time on the Broadway shows Jersey Boys and Legally Blonde. He knows everything he teaches inside and out, and his only regret is the inability to physically demonstrate the applications material covered in class. Similarly, my Dramatic Structure professor is a playwright, my Design Fundamentals professor a set designer and artistic director. He designed projections for the present Rock and Roll Hall of Fame exhibit in New York City.
Albeit, I am transferring.
The program is absolutely professional--Graduate School level--and I can't imagine doing this for the rest of my life. I love drawing up sets and building them; wiring sound and hanging lights is both mentally and engrossing and physically gratifying. But how many times can I draw up countless scenic drafts into one night's work before personal artistic pursuits are obscured by the visions overarching directors? How many light plots and audio mixing can be drawn up, before critical analysis becomes insipid number-crunching?
If you are serious about living Design Tech for the rest of your life, I strongly recommend the program. If you are indifferent, and looking for something both technical and creative to provide new professional insights, I would still recommend it. I don't regret my experience here for one moment.
But it isn't what I will be doing for my whole life, and I'd rather not let such a demanding craft wholly consume my creative and analytic vim.