"We are artistic individuals, large-scale sculptors of environments, but our endeavors are grounded in a pragmatic knowledge of material sciences, tried and true construction methodologies, organized behaviors, and physics."
- Zachary Stribling & Richard Girtain, The Technical Director's Toolkit.
Realizing the scenic designer's vision is the purview of the Technical Director. Costing materials and bidding labor are a creative endeavor in bringing the vision to life as intended. Solving technical challenges, analyzing structures, creating construction drawings, and managing the implementation of the scenic design, are all ways in which the technical director is focused on the function of form to achieve artistic intent.
I strive in my teaching to emphasize the characteristics that make a good technical director while teaching a balance of the areas of the discipline: design, scholarly, and technical. While intertwined, these areas are crucial to achieving a designer's vision for a production.
Tom Fagerholm is currently an Associate Professor of Technical Direction at Southern Illinois University teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in technical direction, automation, metal fabrication, rigging, drafting, structural design for the stage, sound design, and more. He also serves as department technical director, production manager, and health and safety officer.
Areas of research interest for Tom include automation, robotics, Arduino, and CNC and Laser cutting for theater. Currently Tom is teaching workshops and collaborating with universities and theaters in South Africa. Past research projects included a collaboration with the University of Virginia and University of Arizona on an autonomous stage robot. He has also worked on numerous show related Arduino projects, several of which have been presented at the USITT Tech Expo.
Tom's professional credits include: The Colorado Shakespeare Festival as Technical Director in 2022, Interim Associate Technical Director for The Guthrie Theater from May through December 2021, The Utah Shakespeare Festival as Technical Director of the Randall Stage from 2018-2020, the Glimmerglass Festival 2017 summer season as Assistant Technical Director of Scenery Operations , Centenary Stage Company's Off-Broadway production of The English Bride among numerous other equity productions. Tom has also worked two seasons as technical director and production manager for McLeod Summer Playhouse.
In the fall of 2022 Tom worked as a road carpenter for Atomic Design and WWE's Crown Jewel event in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Additionally he has worked on several independent films and interned with Cirque du Soleil on the show “Ká.” While working at Ká he was offered a special opportunity to work as a rigger on Battle at Comicon, a special event in San Diego in which the battle sequence from Ká was presented on the side of Petco Park stadium.