Problems in Design

Nov 2016

Sandra Goldmark is one of the most insightful and brilliant professors at Barnard/Columbia, incredibly humble and an all around amazing human being. This is the best class I have ever taken and I learned more practical knowledge here than in four years at this school. You work with your hands a lot, both building set models and fixing things. The class is very interdisciplinary, you read everything from plays, to anthropology texts, to NY times articles. There are three major components to this class researching, fixing and designing (it is a theatre class after all). She is very open about the class being somewhat in flux though. You spend an entire class learning how to fix things and fixing your own things. I learned how to solder and sew and fix an iphone charger and jewelry all while reading about how to break the cycle of use and discard not only in theatre but in our daily lives. Sandra is really focussed on sustainability and the environmental impact of consumerism. Be prepared to question and problematize every day items you do not actually need. This is not an easy A class and do not take it for that purpose. The readings are manageable and honestly I did not do most of them and still did well. Quality of work is more important to Sandra than quantity of work done. Read the plays you will be designing though, that is important. There is a lot of thought that goes into this class and if you are not prepared to come to class and think on your feet and with your hands designing on the spot do not take it. Sandra expertly interweaves elements of thing theory into explaining stuff that we use as theatre artists. Sandra is tough, she expects a lot and at a high caliber, but the more you put into this the more you will get out of it.