Acclaimed Set Designer John Arnone On Learning a Career on the Fly

The great John Arnone – Broadway legend and multi-award-winning set designer – has been in North Texas of late, designing the stages for the Dallas Theater Center’s production of Dividing the Estate and serving as a guest artist at Southern Methodist University (in addition to designing sets for The Black Monk and Port Twilight last season at the Undermain). Jerome Weeks caught up with Arnone and University of Dallas theater director Patrick Kelley, who has known Arnone since the two were students at Jesuit High School:

Kelly: “John’s work is not decorative. His real distinctiveness is as an interpreter of action. He’s one of those designers who brings that extra dimension to the play.”

Arnone: “But when I’m given assignments like that I usually fail miserably.”

Weeks: “Why?”

Arnone: “Well, no one ever taught me how to do this correctly. [Laughs.] So I just sort of jump in there based on 30 years of experience and hope that I’m not found out.”

Pictured: Kent Williams on John Arnone’s set for Port Twilight at Undermain Theatre.

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