Profile: Mark Stanley '78, Theatre and Asian Studies| November 13, 2012
A lesson I repeat to my students today is “the broader the base, the higher the pyramid.” William and Mary was definitely that base.
When I was a freshman, a touring dance company performed at PBK Hall, and as a theatre student I got to work with the lighting designer and choreographer. I had never seen anything like what was on stage before. Four years later, when I was a senior, the same designer returned to the College. He answered question after question about the performing arts, design, life in New York City, and life touring with dance companies. I was hooked.
What my teachers at William and Mary brought to the classroom exposed me to many different ideas and new ways of looking at the world. But they also knew that students had to be in contact with what was outside the university environment. By bringing in alumni, professionals, and experts who were working in the field, the students were able to have an even broader understanding of the world around us, and a more concrete view of the reality of a given profession. I remain convinced that this connection is essential to students today, particularly in a field such as theatre design.
By the time I graduated I had a really broad range of experiences in theatre: directing, acting, designing shows, running shows, playwriting, and meeting visiting companies. At the same time, classes in government, computer science, even Bio 101, all informed me in unique ways and laid a foundation for the work I do now.
New York is still central to developing a career in theatre, and there are times that Williamsburg can feel a long way away. I hope in some way I can help bridge that gap for the next generation of theatre artists.
In addition to his professional freelance work, serving as the Resident Lighting Designer with the New York City Ballet, and heading the lighting program at Boston University, Stanley helps to run The Hemsley Lighting Programs, a non-profit group in New York that supports the transition of young lighting designers from the academic world to the professional world.