Theater Professor Scott Cooper earns Florida Theater Conference Achievement Award

SPC Theater professor Scott Cooper directs actors in Antigone

Congratulations to St. Petersburg College’s Associate Theater Professor Scott Cooper for earning the 2017 Florida Theater Conference Achievement Award for College/University Theater. This award honors his contributions to the cultural fabric of the arts in the college and university community.

On Thursday, Nov. 11, Cooper will attend the Florida Theatre Conference at the Fine Arts Hall at Santa Fe College in Gainesville to receive the award.

“I am very grateful that people in the state are seeing what a dynamic theater program we have developed over the past seven years at SPC,” said Cooper.

set design
Cooper’s set design for SPC’s production of “Antigone”.

Since 1986, the Florida Theatre Conference began recognizing individuals in the state of Florida that had made a contributing effort in the area of
• Community Theatre
• Professional Theatre
• University/College Theatre
• Theatre for Youth
• High School Theatre

Cooper has led SPC’s theater program since its resurgence in 2011. Though the college began offering theater classes in the 1960s, it became a victim of budget cuts in 2002 and was halted. The program’s long anticipated return was heralded locally and now hosts at least two productions a year.

An award-winning set designer, Cooper started off as an actor in musical theater, but tired of that endeavor.

“I was in the theater a lot, and I loved helping work on and paint scenery and then decided that maybe I could try my hand at that,” he said. ” Lo and behold, I was good at it and then I went to school to study it.”

Cooper, who has a BA and an MFA in Scenic Design, has designed scenery for many shows in the Tampa Bay area, in theaters such as American Stage, Jobsite, Gorilla, the Jaeb Theater at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Stageworks and FreeFall theaters. His work has also been seen at the Goodman and Steppenwolf Theaters in Chicago. He says he’s most proud of his work on the set for “August: Osage County”, for which he received a Norton Award for best set design.

theater set design
Cooper’s set design for “August: Osage County”

“The set is a three-story house with multiple rooms showing all at the same time,” he said. “I initially didn’t want to do it but the director talked me into it and I ended up loving the design a lot.  It was quite impressive and it really worked with the play’s requirements.”

In addition to the Norton Award for “August: Osage County”, Cooper has been nominated twice for the Jefferson Award in Scenic Design in Chicago for his designs of “Bus Stop” and “American Buffalo”, both at American Theater Company. He has received Creative Loafing’s Best of the Bay outstanding Scenic Designer in the Tampa Bay area for four consecutive years, and won another Norton Award for best set design for “‘Night Mother” at Stageworks Theater.

In spite of his many accolades, Cooper said the Achievement Award took him by surprise.

“I had no idea I had been nominated,” he said. “I am a one-person department, and I usually think that no one really notices what I do, but I guess that isn’t the case. My entire career has been about getting students to enjoy and be good at theater—and to understand it’s importance. It is nice to think that I am known for that type of thought and that I have done well.”

For more information, please go to www.scottcooperdesigns.com.

About SPC’s Theater Program

SPC offers classes in acting, directing, stagecraft, costume construction, script analysis, stage management as well as internships and work experiences.

Students are encouraged to audition for each theater production and work on backstage crews to further their understanding of how productions work and to build their resume before either transferring to other colleges or working professionally. Students can also intern at professional theaters such as American Stage and freeFall Theater to gain even more experience.

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