A study in scenic design for August Wilson's The Piano Lesson


This document is an illustrated journey of my process as scenic designer for August Wilson's The Piano Lesson. produced by the University of Central Florida’s Conservatory Theater Program. The production opened on November 8, 2007 in the Backbox theatre on the university's main campus and closed on November 18, running for a total of eight performances. I begin by examining my role as the scenic designer for The Piano Lesson and follow with an explanation of experiences that were a result of the assignment. Through this process, I present a script analysis of the play, describe the design process through conversations with the artistic team, present visual research and follow it through "the build" process, to its final presentation on the UCF stage. As a whole, this paper is a comment on the potential that theater has to bring different cultures together and how I, a twenty-two year old white male, could connect with August Wilson's play The Piano Lesson1 which is rooted in the African American culture. Race is a major component that I explore throughout my reflection of my experience with The Piano Lesson. This paper also documents personal experiences that I had as a direct result of working on The Piano Lesson at the University of Central Florida. I document winning the National Award for Scenic Design in 2008 from the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival for my design. I also report about the summer I spent at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, where The Piano Lesson was originally work-shopped in 1986. Finally, I write about my visit to the Hill District in Pittsburgh, PA, where August Wilson grew up and where The Piano Lesson is set Each of these experiences are connected to my initial assignment at the University of Central Florida as scenic designer for August Wilson's, The Piano Lesson.


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Thesis Completion





Van Duyn Wood, M.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Humanities

Degree Program



Arts and Humanities -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Humanities







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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