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Dec. 11: Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts Names Theater Designer Peter Cooke Head of its School of Drama


Eric Sloss                           

Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts Names Theater
Designer Peter Cooke Head of its School of Drama             

Peter CookePITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University's College of Fine Arts has announced the appointment of Peter Cooke, a noted theater designer and educator, as the new head of its School of Drama.
"Peter has an international network of academic and professional collaborators and colleagues that will complement the School of Drama's international approach to theater education. As a strong administrator, researcher and stage designer he will ensure the School of Drama maintains and strengthens its great reputation. We are thrilled to have him join us," said Hilary Robinson, the Stanley and Marcia Gumberg Dean of the College of Fine Arts.
Cooke, a renowned theater designer with a Ph.D. from the University of New South Wales in Australia, will begin his appointment Jan. 1, 2009. He succeeds Dick Block, who will return to the school's faculty after serving as interim head. Cooke comes to Carnegie Mellon from the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Sydney, Australia, where he recently stepped down as deputy director and head of design, a role he held for 22 years.
"I am delighted to be chosen to head one of the world's leading drama schools in this time of rapid change," Cooke said. "Combining conservatory arts training with an ever-evolving entertainment environment is an exciting prospect within a research university such as Carnegie Mellon. I look forward to working with the esteemed faculty at the School of Drama and in the process opening windows onto new arts horizons for current and future Carnegie Mellon students."
Cooke is among Australia's leading performing arts educators, administrators, researchers and theater practitioners. Born in Brisbane and educated in Kuala Lumpur, Canberra and Sydney, Cooke was the first graduate of the Design Course at NIDA, Australia's premier theater school.
Over three decades he has designed more than 100 productions across the disciplines of drama, opera, dance, puppetry and music theater. His students at NIDA have gone on to win numerous accolades, including Academy awards, for their contributions to national and world stages.
In 1990, Cooke was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to audit and review theater training pedagogy and practice in several major drama schools across Europe and the United States.
In 1996, Cooke was a special research fellow at the Yale School of Drama, where he audited courses in directing, producing, design and playwriting. He subsequently published a book, "Yale School of Drama — Theatre Design Training," about the teaching methodology of Professor Ming Cho Lee, Yale's eminent design teacher.
Cooke led a design team that produced the Handover Ceremony for the closing ceremonies at the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. NIDA student designers who worked on the Handover Ceremony were commissioned to design the ceremonies of the Sydney Summer Olympic Games in 2000.
Cooke completed his Ph.D. at the University of New South Wales. His research focused on the London-based theater designer Loudon Sainthill and on the notion of "Australianness."
As a visiting professor at the Shanghai Theatre Academy, Cooke taught and lectured extensively throughout Southeast Asia for many years. For the past four years he has taught and designed productions at the National School of Drama in New Delhi.
Cooke was awarded an Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday Honors list in 2008 for service to the performing arts through theatrical design education, research and administration.