New faculty member profile: Assistant Professor in Scenic Design Anya Klepikov
By Christopher Franklin '21 | Wednesday, December 20, 2017
By Christopher Franklin '21
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
“I love to watch actors interact with the sets and costumes I have designed, as we discover what works on stage, and what doesn’t.” This comment from UMass Theater’s new Assistant Professor of Scenic Design, Anya Klepikov, perfectly reflects her unique approach to theatrical design. For Anya, theatrical design is more than building beautiful sets and exhilarating costumes for a performance. Though that is part of it, she finds that the beauty of design is in the collaboration with other artists and the teamwork inherent in the design search. This collaborative approach to design has a profound effect on the way in which she teaches. She aims to inspire her students to work together and artistically inspire each other, while working to solve the needs of a particular production.
Anya has experience with and enjoys designing for many different genres. She has designed for theater, opera, dance, installation, performance art, and a web-series. She created sets for several world premieres including Radiunt Abundunt and the opera, Empty The House. Additionally, she has been featured in American Theater Magazine for her set design of a production of Glass Menagerie at Triad Stage in North Carolina.
Anya’s background is partly responsible for her range. In addition to theatrical design, Klepikov has extensively studied music, playing classical piano seriously, as well as studying flamenco dance. Her perspective is also international, since she lived in the former Soviet Union as a child before emigrating to the United States.
In the end, though, it is more related to her love for fruitful collaboration. According to Anya, “The genre of the production, or the type of production is not always the most important part. If I am working with an exceptional team, it can make all the difference. Even if I’m not too fond of the play, or the music, if there are people around me that I feel I can create with, the genre isn’t the most important aspect.”
Anya brings this collaborative approach to UMass teaching undergraduate design students as well as graduate students. Her undergraduate design students actively contribute design ideas that are incorporated into mainstage UMass productions. Anya particularly enjoys watching the undergraduate students grow in their understanding of set design as they find their passion in the process.
Anya is fond of incorporating mainstage productions into her curriculum: “I feel that after having wrestled with the design assignments in class, undergraduates are able to appreciate the actual productions of those same works on a deeper level,” she said about her undergraduate students. Her undergraduates are engaging to the point where their work is being featured in UMass Theater Department productions: this fall’s Introduction to Set Design class created possible designs for the Department’s production of Infants of the Spring, and one student ended up coming on board as the set designer of the actual production.
In addition to teaching undergraduate students, Anya is shaping a graduate program in Set Design and Technology, for students who are pursuing a professional career in set design. “Theater is always evolving and there are new models of theatermaking being explored and practiced today. With less money in the arts, organizations are cutting costs and set designers often have to wear many additional hats . Anya finds that designers are better equipped to function in a variety of theatermaking contexts if they have a strong grasp of construction principles along with the experience of working with many different kinds of materials. The Set Design and Technology MFA program aims to provide students with this foundation, furthering their technical savvy through work in the shop and many production opportunities where they also hone their design skills.
Anya’s passion for artistic creation enables her to interact with students in a way that excites and brings out the best of their own creative sides. “Often times, I feel as though I learn a lot from my students,” she explains. This outlook on student creativity that Anya brings to the department is sure to inspire her students to construct new innovative set designs as they push themselves to become the greatest artists they can become under her tutelage.