Set design

Our Faculty of Scenography and Theatre Technology is one of the most widely-respected schools of theatre designers in the world. The significant role of the designer, cemented in the last third of the 20th century, the indisputably high level of the Petersburg school and the incorporation of contemporary technology in the theatre are what have determined the activity and variety of the processes that the faculty has undergone in the early 21st century.

The faculty was founded in 1954. It is a unique educational entity, expanding upon the tradition established by its founder, the accomplished and innovative designer Nikolai Akimov. This tradition is one of experimentation, of nurturing individuality, freedom and imagination in artistic expression. The faculty is unique in its comprehensive approach to preparing specialists capable of handling the design and technical aspects of a production.

In the curriculum, core disciplines are complemented by others specifically aimed toward the performing arts: drawing, painting, scenographic composition, modeling a theatre space, stage costume…

Training is practice-oriented. In their coursework, students pass through a period of exercises in order to develop every aspect of a production’s visual design: sketches, model, costumes and object environment. Learning to design in a theatre school has a great advantage: students can participate in productions made by directing students or even in those staged in acting studios.

Training is carried out in one of several studios headed by experienced practitioners in scenography. These studios can be considered different schools in their own right, as each has its own approach, and thus the faculty as a whole provides a wide range of forms of designing a stage space. Students in each studio strictly follow the pedagogical principles of learning composition and drawing, train their conceptual thinking, learn to see the work of a stage designer as the art of working with mutable forms in space, come to understand the particularities of materials and textures, develop their view of the world and the stage, sense of style and individuality as authors and master the principles of collaborating with the director. Also of importance to future designers is a thorough education in the humanities: they must know the history of theatre and literature, be able to analyze dramatic texts and become proficient in the use of virtual, digital and other forms of media technology. Students undergo internships in theatres in St. Petersburg, immersing themselves in spaces with a highly developed scenographic culture alongside celebrated masters and successful young design graduates from previous years. This school of designing theatre is a living tradition that is passed on from generation to generation. Upon graduating, student-scenographers quickly enter into professional life in theatre and cinema, developing their creative individuality. In recent years many famous designers have appeared who once studied in our studios; some have even won the national Golden Mask award and St. Petersburg’s Golden Spotlight within the first ten years of their careers.


Eduard Kochergin, head designer of the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theatre, instructor at RGISI:

            I began my studies at the Institute in 1956. Back then the total number of students across all the faculties was no more than 300. We all fit in the main building, which also housed the dorm. Our studios were in the attic spaces. It’s impossible to compare that to the Institute today: it’s now a whole country, a conglomerate of various faculties. Though I must say that our faculty of stage design and theatre technology is very good – it’s friendly and welcoming.