Scenography, Pedagogy

Teaching at Ryerson University

Biography | Roots: Lester Polakov | Teaching at Glendon College | Teaching at Ryerson University


Teaching at Ryerson University


Valérie C. Kaelin, MFA, BA teaches Visual Studies I for Film Option students, as well Scenography I and Scenography II to students in the Faculty of Communication and Design at Ryerson University. The opportunity to teach within The School of Image Arts offered a rich environment in which to study scenography beyond the confines of the theatre or even of film and television. Students specializing in staged (also known as “directorial”) photography and new media students interested in immersive environments, animation and machines enrich our understanding of scenography immeasurably.


As in all interdisciplinary initiatives, the principle challenge is to harmonize the terminology between these domains. For instance, the “location survey,” of the film industry, might be known as a “site analysis” in immersive design. A theatre “gobo” is known as a “cookie” by photographers. I hardly use the term “costume design,” let alone the weak term “wardrobe,” any longer, since whether live, animated, conventional or robotic puppet, or avatar, we are all practicing character design.


Immediately struck by the rich offerings pertaining to scenography at Ryerson University even as a polytechnic institute, I am indebted to Don Snyder and to Ken Radway, the Image Arts School Council and the Faculty Senate for supporting The Certificate in Design for Arts and Entertainment. It has several purposes:

- To enrich the curriculum of a film student discovering the vocation of art director through the survey courses in their third year.

- To provide a local environment, as Lester Polakov did, which would anchor the emerging scenographer.

- To create a forum for interdisciplinary scenography.

- To provide a supportive bridge between study and professional practice.


Our success rate in placing alumni in the DGC’s Art Department Caucus is very high.


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The Certificate in Design for Arts and Entertainment
The Raymond G. Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University


Students interested in full-time studies in scenography might wish to apply to:

Performance Production, The School of Theatre, Ryerson University

York University Theatre Department

Glendon College Drama Studies (Tri-lingual)



See also Toronto Resources for Emerging Scenographers


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