Lighting Design Emphasis

The Lighting Design Program at Penn State is one of the most intense pre-professional experiences available to the aspiring Lighting Designer or Lighting Technician.  The Lighting Design program provides every undergraduate BFA numerous opportunities to build their portfolio with a wide range of design and technical experiences, as all shows are designed almost exclusively by undergraduate students.  Through extensive hands-on & classroom training, plus numerous internship options, the successful BFA Lighting student is prepared to continue into the top MFA training programs, or more often to enter the professional world right away. 

Our 3 main spaces include:

·      The Playhouse, a 380-seat proscenium theatre.

·      The Pavilion, a 250-seat thrust/black-box theatre.

·      The Downtown Theatre Center, a 120-seat proscenium theatre.

In addition, the Lighting students have the option to work in the following venues:

·      Eisenhower Auditorium, a 2,500-seat Broadway road hall.

·      Bryce Jordan Center, a 15,260-seat arena for rock concerts.

·      The State Theatre, a 571-seat touring hall.

Photo of production of La Boheme
(La Bohème – Act IV, Eisenhower Auditorium - Lighting Design by William Kenyon)

Photo of lighting design for production of "Next to Normal"
(Next to Normal - Pavilion Theatre, Penn State - Lighting Design by Ken Friedhoff)


Penn State enjoys a close working relationship with many top manufacturers, allowing us to beta-test new equipment and experience the latest in lighting technology in our 30-seat Lighting Lab, which is also used for most of the Lighting Design Classes.  

Photo of lighting lab
(Pennn State School of Theatre Lighting Lab)

Our close proximity to New York City allows for easy access to Broadway shows & contact with top working professionals in the industry.  Recent graduates are pursuing graduate study at UNLV and SMU, or are developing freelance careers in New York City, Las Vegas, Chicago, & Orlando.  Many of our students have gone on to work in Architectural Lighting, thanks in part to our strong relationship with the Architectural Engineering program here.  Those alums are at ETC, Schuler-Shook, & the Dulanski Group.  Recent theatrical internships have included Disney, Cirque du Soleil, Glimmerglass Opera, and Radio City Music Hall.

If you would like to see a time-lapse video of the focus for our Pavilion Theatre production of RENT, please follow this link: Rent Focus Video


About the Faculty:

Associate Professor William C. Kenyon serves as Head of the Lighting Design program, and is an active professional designer with over 150 designs for theatre, dance, opera, and musicals to his credit, Prof. Kenyon has recently designed the lighting for several Penn State locations, including the 2013 re-creation of the iconic Nittany Lion Shrine, the Art Room in Schreyer House, and the new theatre space incorporated into the Tank 5 water tower adjacent to the SALA Building.  Prof. Kenyon’s recent production work includes performances at The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Wolftrap, and the Qatar International Arts Festival. He has also designed for The Hangar Theatre, The Metropolitan Playhouse, Opera Delaware, Ballet Theatre of Central Pennsylvania, Nebraska Rep, Russian Ballet Theatre of Delaware, Opera Omaha, University of Iowa, and MTI-Disney.  Prof. Kenyon has been involved in Native American theatre and dance for over 15 years, serving as resident LD for the American Indian Dance Theatre, and was involved in the complete reimagining of “Unto These Hills”, a massive outdoor spectacle celebrating the history of the Cherokee.  Member of USITT, OISTAT, IALD, IESNA, and USAA Local #829 in the areas of Lighting and Sound Design.

Ken Friedhoff serves as the Master Electrician & Lighting Supervisor for Penn State’s School of Theatre. He came to Penn State in 2009 after working as a Master Electrician and Lighting Designer in professional regional theatres such as Playhouse on the Square, The Circuit Playhouse, Horse Cave Theatre, Kentucky Repertory Theatre, Porthouse Theatre and Theatre Memphis. He holds an undergraduate degree in Theatre Design and Production from University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music as well as a MFA in Lighting Design from The University of Memphis. Mr. Friedhoff’s design work has been seen here at Penn State Centre Stage on productions such as, “Smokey Joe’s Café”, “The Good Doctor”, “Radio Golf”, “Beehive”, “Good People” and “Next to Normal”. His professional certifications include ETCP Certified Entertainment Electrician#1365, Certified Vari-lite Technician and CM Chain Hoist Technician. He is a member of USITT and an active freelance installer of entertainment rigging and electrical systems.

Logo for United Scenic Artists


Logo for Stage Directors and Choreographers Society


Contact Us

Address: Penn State School of Theatre, 116 Theatre Building, University Park, PA 16802 USA.

Office: (814) 865 7586

Fax: (814) 865 5754

Tickets: (814) 863 0255