Kennesaw State professor publishes book about theatre design

Textbook offers design insight for actors, directors and stage managers

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Georgia (Feb 24, 2011) — Textbook offers design insight for actors, directors and stage managers

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KENNESAW, Ga.—Kennesaw State University Professor of Theatre Ming Chen has published a new textbook for theatre design students called "Visual Literacy for Theatre." Published by Linus Publications, the text covers the fundamentals of theatrical design for prospective designers as well as directors, actors and stage managers.

Chen developed the book after 18 years of teaching a visual literacy course for which she says she could not find a suitable single text. She had grown frustrated that the existing texts were developed only for art majors or designers and were not appropriate for students who are primarily studying other aspects of theatre.


book is especially written for theatre majors.” Chen defines her textbook as a workbook for both teachers and students. She also attests that the multitude of pictures in her book is helpful to students. “I think our students need to see a lot of examples of good design. Sometimes when you just talk about design it doesn’t make sense to them, so you have to have good examples.” Her book has hundreds of color illustrations of theatrical designs, making it different from other textbooks she has used. The book shows students examples by other students as well as those done by professional designers, including those from popular Broadway plays such as "The Lion King."

“The book not only covers the principles and elements of design, but also shows how the principles and elements were applied to theatrical productions. One specific project focuses on designing a costume on a mannequin plate. “They love it because they can see the immediate result and put their ideas and imagination into the project.”

Chen is already using the book at KSU and is encouraging feedback from other teachers who are also using her book across the country.

Ming Chen has both a Bachelor and a Master of Fine Arts degree in stage design from Shanghai Theatre Academy and a Master of Arts degree in theatre production from the University of Pittsburgh. She has taught at Kennesaw State for 20 years. As a theatrical designer, her work has been seen around the world including at the American College Dance Festival in New York City; Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C.; Shanghai Youth Theatre Company in China; and the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space in the Czech Republic. In metropolitan Atlanta, she has designed for the Alliance Theatre, Horizon Theatre, 7 Stages and Atlanta Ballet. She has written chapters in three other books and contributed to several professional journals. Chen frequently presents at national and international theatre conferences. She has directed or co-directed projects that have received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, the Georgia Humanities Council, the French Consulate in Atlanta, the Confucius Institute, and the Coca Cola Foundation.

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