Fountain Of Youth: 2013 Young Designer to Watch, Jason Sherwood, Set & Production Designer

Residence: New York, NY

Current project(s): Set design for a world premiere site-specific play at the Serenbe Playhouse, outside of Atlanta; set design for Parade with the Yale Dramatic Association; season set design at the Civic Theatre of Allentown; associate design for Mike Carnahan on The Happiest Song Plays Last at Second Stage.

Most notable achievements: Making my LORT theatre design debut less than a year after graduating from undergrad. I set-designed The Whipping Man at the Alliance Theatre, directed by Alexander Greenfield. The show, our director, the lighting design, one of our actors, and my set design received 2013 Suzi Bass Award Nominations. I owe that opportunity to the generosity of Kent Gash and the craftsmanship of the artists at the Alliance.

In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play)


When I started in this industry: When I was a junior in high school, my drama director, Laura Rokoszak, let me design a production of Noises Off, and I was hooked. She has remained a mentor and friend, and has been a huge supporter of mine. This year, I’ll design her production of Once Upon A Mattress on the same stage where my first design came to life.

How I got into this industry: Chris Jaehnig interviewed and accepted me into the undergrad design program at NYU. My instructors connected me with Derek McLane, who gave me an internship and then jobs on and off for the past four years. Along the way, I met young, fearless directors who wanted to put on plays in every weird and bizarre space and basement and alleyway we could find. It’s been a total love affair.

Influences: Designers I admire and respect (Todd Potter, Mike Carnahan, Derek McLane, Hugh Landwehr, Eugene Lee, Mimi Lien, Toni Barton, to name a few); directors who push me out of my box (Kent Gash, William Sanders, Mia Walker, Will Detlefsen, Sarah Krohn, Zi Alikhan, Alexander Greenfield). Also, the first week I moved to New York, I saw the Louise Bourgeois retrospective at the Guggenheim. It’s basically been my reference point for art that is about feeling ever since. 

Spring Awakening


Worst advice I’ve ever heard: “Don’t listen to them; they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Best advice I’ve ever heard: That every experience is a clue, and every person is a teacher, and that, if you keep your ego out of your ears and away from your eyes, you will never stop learning.

My favorite thing about the production industry: When I am old and tired and going home on my last day of work ever, I will never look at a single desk or a single room and say, “I have worked here every day for 50 years, and I still don’t get to leave with my chair.”

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: A ceiling: lighting designers beware. I just love putting something overhead and a great show deck, because I’m tall, and wherever I sit, I can see the floor.

Plans for the future: To keep working as hard as I can—I am lucky to be working full time as my own designer and as an associate for amazing, renowned designers, making a living creating work with so many talented friends and colleagues. I hope I can do that forever. 

Other interests/side gigs: Designing fashion shows and events—I’ve done several build-outs and installations for Details Magazine, a site-specific outdoor fashion presentation for Bonobos, a 20th Anniversary Gala for the Two River Theatre, and some Fashion Week runway shows in the tents at Lincoln Center. And I always try to be reading a book, just for pleasure.

Awards, honors: 2013 Suzi Bass Nomination, Outstanding Scenic Design of a Play, The Whipping Man at the Alliance Theatre; 2012 NYU Outstanding Achievement in Production & Design; NYU BFA with Honors.


TAGS: Theatre
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