The 2014 GPTC Design Wing

May 20th – May 31st

This May, the Great Plains Theatre Conference (GPTC) is proud to host the third annual installation of the GPTC Design Wing, with a mission to expand the conceptual boundaries and experiential reference for a new generation of designers in the performing arts.

This groundbreaking program challenges traditional design modes and virtually upends the creative process—often beginning before there is even a script in hand.

Like all designers in today’s world, theatre designers have to determine goals and provide solutions for a project—from the ‘big picture’ to the smallest detail. By beginning at the ‘seed’ of an idea rather than with a fully realized framework, the participants of the Design Wing are afforded the rare opportunity to contribute creatively to the concept itself.

The Design Wing is headed by award-winning national designer, Justin Townsend, who leads five emerging scenic artists from across the country in an unprecedented exploration of process. From the time they arrive at the Conference, the designers are immersed in a daily round of activities that support, enliven and enhance creativity—GPTC events, research, workshops, script analysis, field trips, play readings and more.

In addition, each is assigned to work extensively with one of the five playwrights chosen for the Conference’s MainStage readings. The designers are able to confer not only with the playwrights, but also the directors and performers, if they wish. The ability to delve into a script alongside its creator is a unique advantage for any theatre artist. At the end of the week, the designers create concepts for their respective plays and present them in a public forum.

The GPTC Design Wing not only generates good will and productivity among those visiting the conference, it also strengthens the cultural fabric of local performing arts by making the ideology visible and accessible to the community.

Design Wing Personnel

IMAGE: Maribel Navarrete-Hernandez

Justin Townsend – Design Wing Coordinator

Justin Townsend (Lighting Design) Broadway: Vanya, Sonia, Masha, and Spike;The Other Place; Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. NYC: Here Lies Love, Juan and John (Public); Galileo, Unnatural Acts (Classic Stage Company) Milk Like Sugar (Playwrights Horizons); Luck of the Irish, On The Levee (LCT3); Opus (Primary Stages); Speech and Debate (Roundabout); Beauty on the Vine, Palace of the End (Epic Theatre). Regional: Arden, Alliance, A.R.T, Bard Summerscape, Boston Court, Baltimore’s Center Stage, Cincinnati Play House, Cleveland Playhouse, Folger Shakespeare, Hartford Stage, Huntington Theatre, Kirk Douglas, The Intiman, La Jolla Playhouse, Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Playmakers Repertory Company, Portland Center Stage. Justin is an assistant professor at Brooklyn College. www.justintownsend.com

IMAGE: Maribel Navarrete-Hernandez

Angelica Borrero

Fortier Angelica Borrero-Fortier is a Puertorican Scenic & Costume designer currently based in New York, cursing her 3rd year as an M.F.A candidate in Design and Technical Production at Brooklyn College. Her works includes 9 Devils (3LD), White Noise (Theater for The New City), Chalk (Joria Productions), The Feast (Columbia University). As well as several productions at Brooklyn College, Camino Real (Scenic Design), A Murder of Crows (Scenic Design), Clybourne Park (Costume Design) and Suburban Motel: Featuring Loretta (Costume Design).

IMAGE: Maribel Navarrete-Hernandez

Sarah Johnston

Sarah just completed her BFA in Theatre Production, Lighting Design at Brooklyn College. Recent credits include: Happily Ever by Amina Henry (New Workshop Theater, Lighting Designer); The Architecture of Becoming (Women's Project Theatre, Assistant Lighting Designer); A Man's A Man (CSC; Assistant Lighting Designer); Miss Julie (New Workshop Theater, Lighting Designer); The Downtown Loop (3LD; Lighting Designer and Stage Manager). www.sbjlights.com.

IMAGE: Maribel Navarrete-Hernandez

Mark Kanieff

Mark Kanieff is a graduate student in Scenic Design at the California Institute of the Arts, where he has designed sets for the shows Anne Frank and When Spring Comes to the Hills and Dales and for the dance piece Ways of Forgetting. He has designed a number of sets for local theaters in Rome, Italy, where he worked for 20 years as a medical writer in the field of epidemiology. He earned his BFA in Sculpture from Carnegie-Mellon University. His most recent sculptures and installations focus on plodding.

IMAGE: Maribel Navarrete-Hernandez

SeungKyu Shin

SeungKyu Shin is native of South Korea and currently an MFA set designer in the Design and Tech program at Brooklyn College. He has designed sets for several school productions including; Gruesome Playground Injuries (New Workshop Theatre), The Rimers of Eldritch (Whitman Theatre), and Clybourne Park (Whitman Theatre). Outside of school, he has designed sets for Fast in Fire (Theatre for the New City), 19 (Schapiro Theatre) and The Architecture of Becoming (women’s Project Theatre/ New York City Center Stage 2; Assistant Set Designer).

IMAGE: Maribel Navarrete-Hernandez

Evan Spigelman

Evan Spigelman is a performer, director, light designer and co-founder of New Orleans performance collective Skin Horse Theater. Evan is also co-director of the New Orleans Queer Youth Theater, a transformative space for queer and allied youth to actualize their power through performance. In 2013, Evan served as a core organizer with the New Orleans Fringe Festival. Outside of New Orleans, Evan has worked with the Ontological Hysteric Theater and Incubator Arts Project in New York City. He has a B.A. from Bard College in History and Gender and Sexuality Studies and has studied at the Summer Institute on Sexuality, Culture, and Society at the University of Amsterdam. From time to time, Evan can also be seen stalking around New Orleans as his gender-bent alter ego, Ms. Asa Metric.


As a designer, attending a playwright conference was essential because it brought us all back to our roots- storytelling. It was an incredible experience to be immersed in readings every day, and to revel in the sole duty to listen and engage. Our time with the Main Stage playwrights as a Design Wing was another truly enriching experience. These meetings transformed the often production centric relationship between writer and designer into a great dialog, that allowed our thoughts and visual research to act as a catalyst for deeper exploration of the material. With a broad range of backgrounds, we learned from each-others process and encouraged the writers and ourselves to splendor in the exciting and sometimes surprising kinship of image and words. Beyond the great intellectual inspiration of this week, the conference is downright fun. The fringe was an amazing opportunity to cut loose and create with these new friends and reminded us how some of the best stuff comes from thinking on your toes. The community of GPTC is so warm and hilarious, you have taken an event and made it into a family. We are onto your plan to seduce us all out to Omaha and it is working. What a wonderful city! I hope to return for this conference in the future.
- Kate Fry, Design Wing 2013

Participating in the Great Plains Theatre Conference Design Wing changed the way I, as a designer, approach new plays and has made me hungry to get involved in the process of creating new work as early as possible. I now have an interest in collaborating directly with playwrights as well as directors of new plays. In conjunction, at GPTC, I have met many exciting playwrights with whom I hope to make work in the future. As a direct result of attending the conference last year, I designed the set and lighting for Sara Farrington's Mickey and Sage at Incubator Arts Space in New York City and will be designing Requiem for Black Marie for her this coming summer. The conference also introduced me to other young designers from around the country. The discussions about our varying experiences as designers of new works and what our roles are and could be helped me expand and focus my interests as I continue to participate in the creation of new plays. Peter Ksander and Justin Townsend have created something very special with this program, and I know it will grow to become even more over time. What an amazing and singular program. I do not think there's anything bringing playwrights and designers together in the same way anywhere else. What a privilege to participate in working towards new and exciting theatre in a way other than one play at a time.
- Cecilia Durbin, Design Wing 2012

The GPTC Design Wing is supported by Clark Creative Group.