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Theatre MFA Student Wins National Award for Scenic Technology

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Rogers bolting together the Capital Campaign DeLorean automation track rig he designed.

James Rogers, an MFA student in Theatre Technology, will receive the Bernhard R. Works, Frederick A. Buerki Scenic Technology Award, known as “The Golden Hammer Award,” from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology (USITT).

“I feel like I must be doing something right in my field. Winning this award gives me a sense of validation for having reached an academic milestone in technical theatre. There are not a lot of awards of this kind for people in my field and at the national USITT conference level, so I am excited and honored to have been recognized,” said Rogers.

Rogers is one of ten artists who will receive a 2015 USITT Award for Young Designers and Technicians in the Performing Arts at the Annual Conference and Stage Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio, March 18–21. Winners receive free conference registration to attend the 20th anniversary celebration and awards reception, monetary awards, and national recognition in their field.

Rogers, who earned his undergraduate degree in scenic design at the University of Northern Colorado, said the experience of creating live entertainment and art is “cathartic.” Having always wanted to work in theatre, he was a technical director and taught and advised students at the University of Northern Colorado before coming to Penn State.

“I decided to apply so that I could advance my knowledge and teaching ability,” said Rogers, who is in his second and final year at Penn State. “I have been able to work on almost every production that has passed through our shop. As is probably common for theatre students, my favorite productions have been those I have had the privilege to contribute to in some major way—for example, Into the Woods, Spring Awakening and the [For the Future] campaign closing.”

Rogers was nominated for “The Golden Hammer” by Jason Winfield, faculty properties supervisor in the School of Theatre, and credits his mentors for his success.

“Looking back, the faculty and staff who encouraged my interest in technical theatre made all the difference in my choice to pursue this as a viable career,” he added.

To view of gallery of Rogers' work, visit:

For more information on USITT, visit the website: