University of Utah’s former Department of Theatre Chair, Gage Williams, has been invited to participate at the 2019 Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space (PQ).
PQ is the biggest international performance design event in the world. Only 51 USA designers were invited to showcase their work and discuss their careers. Williams’ set of Romeo and Juliet at Lake Tahoe Shakespeare will be featured at PQ, making this his third time to participate in 25 years. Williams’ set designs for Anne of Green Gables at Childsplay Theatre Co and Hamlet at Idaho Shakespeare Festival were selected by PQ in 1999 and 2003.
“The set design for Rome and Juliet is a fragment of a Renaissance building, being supported by a scaffold.” Williams explains. The city longs for recovery and some sense of stability in this production of Romeo and Juliet, and Verona is a place of danger, a war-torn city just recovering from the first World War. A single wall in a state of ruin set against the enormous beauty of Lake Tahoe juxtaposes the central themes of this play. “At times the set strives to capture the beauty of an ancient ruin in the setting sun against the greenery of the trees and blue of the lake while foreshadowing the ultimate total demise of these two families. By the end of the play, only the tomb and fragments of the wall are visible through the edgy lighting, and the beauty of the lake and trees are lost to darkness.”
Williams started teaching at U of U in 1994 and served as chair from 2009-2018. He was the resident set designer for the Idaho Shakespeare Festival (ISF) from 1995- 2008, and continues to design for ISF and for other regional theaters and opera companies including, Great Lakes Theatre, Actors of Theatre Phoenix, Childsplay Theatre Co, Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival, Salt Lake Acting Company, Pioneer Theatre Company, and Utah Opera Company. He has designed numerous productions for the U’s Department of Theatre, including Hello, Dolly! at Kingsbury Hall, that was featured in the quarterly USITT publication TD&T this past summer.
From 1990 to 1994 he lived in LA and was a staff Art Director for Bruce Ryan Production Design. During that time, he art directed productions for ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, HBO, Showtime, ESPN, Disney, VH-1, and MTV. Williams received a CableACE Award for his art direction of the Showtime film Mastergate. Since 1994 he has art directed numerous comedy specials for HBO, including productions featuring George Carlin, Bill Mahar, and the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO. from 1995-2008.
Williams is currently on sabbatical from U of U for the 2018-2019 academic year. He will return to teaching at the U in Fall 2019.