Theatre and Dance


My experience at WIU

My experience at WIU was exactly what I needed. I had just discovered my passion for theatre, but having grown up as a studio artist, I initially struggled with what to study. I decided to combine my newfound excitement for theatre with my longtime passion of art into scenic design. I had just acted in my first community theatre show. I wanted to learn everything about theatre— and study art. WIU gave me a supportive community to do anything I wanted. I took art classes, acting classes, and design classes. I took more classes and credits than I needed to. By the time I left, I believe I had taken every acting and production design class I could have—in addition to all of the art classes I was able to take alongside. Having the ability, freedom, and support of everyone there to explore every aspect of art and theatre was crucial to my development as an artist. I truly believe that all things are connected. Having a broad range of understanding of the arts made me a better artist.

But not only did I develop a range of knowledge, but also specialized practice. At my time, a lot of the students in the theatre department were actors. I was the only scenic design undergrad with a few scenic design grad student MFAs, who quickly became my closest friends and mentors. The intimate program at the time gave me the ability to explore my passion. My very first semester in college, I was encouraged to ask to design. To my surprise, I was given the opportunity. I was assigned to design a small studio show in Simpkins Theatre. The studio shows were seen as learning environments with small budgets and limited resources that challenged the artists to be creative with the resources and space given.

Throughout my time at WIU, I designed at least one studio show a semester, if not more, finally culminating in a mainstage design my senior year. I worked in the scene shop through a talent grant and also learned how sets were constructed and painted. I then applied this stagecraft to my studio designs—with guidance from my technical director and design faculty. I’m grateful for the opportunity because you can learn a lot by “doing.” WIU gave me just this— tons of chances to succeed, fail, learn, and try again.

I look back at my time at WIU often and am grateful for the family that developed me, supported me, and sculpted me into the best artist I could be at the time. Without my friends, professors, mentors, and family there, I wouldn’t be the artist I am today. They’ve all left an impression on me that is reflected in my art. “Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” — Henry Ward Beecher


Tyler Herald is a New York-based scenic designer. He graduated with his MFA in Scenic Design from the University of Maryland, College Park. At UMD, he has worked with Daniel Conway & Misha Kachman on professional projects at theaters such as Arena Stage, Olney Theatre, Milwaukee Rep, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Fords Theatre, and the Kennedy Center.

Scenic Design Credits: Dialogues of the Carmelites, The Schooling of Bento Bonchev, Render/Edit, Full Circle, The Call (Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center), L'Occasione fa il Ladro/Lost Luggage (Glimmerglass Festival)

Assistant/Associate Credits: David Korins Studio (Assistant Designer); Adam Koch Associates (Assistant Designer); The Scottsboro Boys, Signature Theatre, Macbeth, Catholic University of America, The Great Gatsby, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Love's Labour's Lost, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre (Associate Scenic Design: Daniel Conway); Macbeth, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre (Assistant Designer); La Boheme, Sweeney Todd, The Thieving Magpie, The Crucible, Wilde Tales, Glimmerglass Festival (Assistant Designer)


WIU Parent's Letter from Tawni Martin

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