Jeff Herrmann is a Professor of Theatre and the Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Baldwin Wallace University. As the resident scenic and lighting designer for the program, production design work for BW this past season included Rent, La Boheme, Moon Over Buffalo, Passing Strange and Miss Elizabeth Bennet.
Outside of BW, Professor Herrmann designs for Cain Park in Cleveland Heights where productions have included Tintypes, Bye-Bye Birdie, Damn Yankees, The Sound of Music, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver, Songs for a New World, Hair, Dreamgirls and the Cleveland premiere of tick...tick...Boom! .
For Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights, he has designed the Cleveland premieres of Closer, W;t, Refuge, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, Take Me Out, Blackbird, The Last Five Years and Blue Door.
A resident designer for Great Lakes Theater Festival in Cleveland, he has designed Bat Boy: The Musical, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Cabaret and Into the Woods, all joint productions with the Idaho Shakespeare Festival.
Also for GLTF, in May 2010 he designed the lighting for Stories by Heart written and performed by John Lithgow. Other ISF production designs include I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, The Spitfire Grill and Little Shop of Horrors.
Professor Herrmann holds an MFA in scene and lighting design from Southern Illinois University and is a member of United Scenic Artists Local 829.
Questions and answers
Why did you choose to teach at BW?
During my interview, I was drawn to the connection between the faculty and the students. I saw great potential for growth in the program, the students and BW felt like a place where I could grow along with my students as a teacher and as an artist. 15 years later, I am very proud to be part of the college and the theatre and dance program.
What characteristics distinguish BW from other colleges/universities?
It is a small college with a lot of heart and energy. In the theatre and dance department, students are encouraged to participate in the many productions offered each semester, putting classroom learning into practice. Opportunities are provided through acting, directing, crew work, carpentry, painting, electrical hang and focus, costume construction...the list is endless depending upon a student's individual interest. The department also has strong connections with area professional theatre companies allowing students the opportunity to engage in valuable internships.
How do you mentor students?
As a scene and lighting designer, I typically have a student assist me on each production. A student can work with me through the design concept, attend design meetings, help with gathering research and assist in creating drawings, draftings and models.
What do students like best about your class?
My classes are are not lecture based but rather focused on hands on projects. In my scenic design course for example, we spend a great deal of class time working on thumbnail sketches, creating renderings and constructing models based on plays read and discussed in class. In my lighting design course, students spend class time learning how to hang and focus lights, and drafting a lighting plot. At the end of a course, students have practical work to put into a portfolio.
If you weren't teaching what would you be doing?
I cannot imagine not teaching in a college environment. But if not teaching, I would work as a professional lighting and scenic designer full time, something I already do on a part time basis during the summers and occasionally during the school year, providing me with professional experiences to share with my students.