Broadway HitsPosted on: March 2, 2012
When Scott Pask’s name was called as the 2005 winner of the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design, it took a moment to register. “My brother punched me in the arm,” he says, jolting him to get up and receive his award.
Winning his first Tony, for his work on The Pillowman, came as a complete surprise. “It was shocking. I remember watching the Tony Awards on TV when I was a child growing up in Yuma,” Pask says. “Being acknowledged by my peers is mind blowing. I don’t take it lightly, or for granted, and it won’t ever sink in.”
Pask has been nominated for a total of five Tony Awards and has won three, most recently in 2011for the Broadway hit The Book of Mormon. He has designed sets for The Great White Way and other productions in Europe and around the world. Among his other accomplishments: running Scott Pask Studio, designing sets for fashion shows, and working on a fashion spread for The New York Times, in collaboration with his twin brother, the men’s fashion director at T Magazine. Pask is now designing sets for a Cirque du Soleil show opening in Montreal this year.
Pask, who earned a BA in architecture from the UA and an MFA from the Yale School of Drama, describes himself as a creative chameleon. While studying architecture at the UA, he began making connections between artistry and audience. “I became interested in creating a space that garners an emotional response, not unlike a Gothic cathedral. Architecture, for me, was leading to this,” he says. “I was making up narratives for the buildings I was designing.”
When Pask starts a new project, he reads the script, listens to the music, and talks with the director, “which is especially critical to the three-dimensional vision or requirements of the production,” he says.
He draws motivation for his artistry from many sources. When designing scenery for a classic play at the Old Vic in London, or an opera in Chicago, he creates a space onstage that has an intrinsic link to source material — a dance or an opera.
“The theatrical process is ultimately a large collaboration between many different disciplines — lighting, costumes, sound, choreography — and they are all integral to the success of the production,” he says. “I have an especially close kinship with lighting designers because they are the sculptors of my work. After all, it is through their craft that the audience experiences my vision.”
Pask, 44, is exceptionally detail oriented and remains committed to his work even after the curtain rises. He often attends performances to ensure that his vision is maintained. Whether a prop needs to be touched up or a light bulb needs to be dusted, “it’s important for me to maintain the level of the show as it was on opening night,” he says.
Even though he insists he doesn’t have a signature style, he does admit there are consistent threads in his scenery. “It’s easier for others to articulate than me,” he says, “but there’s a level of detail, of craft, that I incorporate. Even the pattern on a lampshade can support the story and influence an emotional reaction.”