VCUarts Theatre

Scott Bradley

Scott Bradley decided he wanted to be a set designer when he was 13. Born to artist parents, he started painting as soon as he could hold a brush in hand and in high school he designed most of the sets that the theater department produced. At 17 he attended the International Arts and Strings Conference in Lausanne, Switzerland where he met and worked with renowned Kabuki artist Shozo Sato. Since Professor Sato taught at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, it seemed a natural transition to enroll in the theater department at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and receive a  BFA in set design. Other studies would include drawing and painting, opera, dance, and theater within a complex that featured all venues of performance. A portfolio of produced set designs, drawings, paintings and mural work earned him entrance into the Yale School of Drama in 1983 to work under the guidance of Ming Cho Lee and other luminaries such as Jane Greenwood, Michael Yeargen and Jennifer Tipton.

It was in these years assisting other graduate school set designers on Yale Rep productions that he was introduced to the novice playwright, August Wilson. Working diligently as scene painter and assistant set designer on MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, 1984 and assistant set designer on FENCES 1985, Bradley landed the position of set designer in his final year of graduate school on the premiere production of JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE which followed the previous two plays on an around the country regional theater tryout and onto Broadway in 1988, earning him a Drama Desk Nomination for Best Set Design.

So began his professional career in New York City and the next years were full of more far reaching design experiences. Having toured JOE TURNER from Yale Rep to The Huntington Theater, Seattle Rep, Old Globe, and Arena Stage his work was acknowledged for its design appeal and he was hired by other regional theaters as well as turning to Television and Film for work.

Part of the challenge as a young set designer living in New York in the mid 1980’s was surviving by doing what you liked to do. Bradley had been designing the interiors and painting murals in a few restaurants along Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn and one bar featured an 11 foot long light box model of Manhattan’s southern tip including the World Trade Towers that he built of foam core and translucent frosted plastic. Producers from Late Night with David Letterman saw this and hired him as part of the design team to create the new background behind Letterman’s window at the NBC studios in Rockefeller Center in 1989. This was a dream job but the allure was short and film seemed the next horizon to try out with a couple of films for Good Machine. Ted Hope and James Schamus were the producers that represented director, Ang Lee, and Bradley had known Lee when they were students at UofI. So meeting up again these few years later proved a good allegiance for taking on the job as production designer of Lee’s then new film PUSHING HANDS, 1990. After filming in 25 locations around Manhattan for four weeks straight Bradley was up for another change in the design career taking on his first lecturing assistant professorship at University of Illinois U-C in 1991and being the interim Head of Scene Design. In 1993 Scott was introduced to director Mary Zimmerman at the Goodman Theater and began a series of award-winning productions with the Macarthur Grant recipient. Notable shows written and directed by Zimmerman premiered at The Goodman Theater and included THE NOTEBOOKS OF LEONARD DAVINCI (Lucille Lortel nomination, Jefferson Award nomination, Bay Area Critics Award all for Best Scenic Design)1993, JOURNEY TO THE WEST ( Bay Area Critics Award) 1995, and SILK (Joseph Jefferson Award) 2007.

Also premiering at the Goodman was August Wilson’s SEVEN GUITARS in 1995 which moved to Broadway and earned a 1996 Drama Desk Award and a Tony nomination for Best Set design. It was with it’s touring first stop that Bradley took on the position of interim Head of Scene Design at Boston University for the next few years and had several NY premieres of new plays including Steve Martin’s PICASSO AT THE LAPIN AGILE and Wendy Macleod’s SIN at Second Stage, and Mary Zimmerman’s direction of Philip Glass’s AKHNATEN for The Boston Lyric Opera.

In 1997 Bradley and his partner Marvin Sims moved to Richmond, VA where Professor Sims was The Head of Performance Studies as well as President of Black Theater Network and ATHE until his untimely passing in 2003.

This marked the beginning of another chapter to Bradley who decided to move back to New York designing a new Sarah Ruhl play, EURYDICE that he had originated for Berkeley Rep in 2004. It had toured to Yale Rep then came to Second Stage in NYC in 2007 along with a renewed freelance career spanning to the present,  Bradley has designed for regional theaters including Arena Stage with Ruhl’s PASSION PLAY and Steppenwolf Theater premiering Ruhl’s DEAD MAN’S CELL PHONE. Other regional theaters include Oregon Shakespeare Festival; TOP DOG/UNDERDOG. PIANO LESSON, FENCES, MACBETH, SHE LOVES ME, and MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, Long Wharf Theater; THE BLUEST EYE, ITALIAN AMERICAN RECONCILIATION, BROWNSVILLE SONG, Hartford Stage: DUTCHMAN, OEDIPUS, FENCES, JITNEY, GEE’S BEND, GEM OF THE OCEAN, The Huntington Theater: AH! WILDERNESS, ALL MY SONS, PRELUDE TO A KISS, Seattle Rep; the premiere of Samuel D. Hunter’s  A GREAT WILDERNESS, CLYBOURNE PARK, PHOTOGRAPH 51, and A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE. Bradley joins the Virginia Commonwealth University faculty as Assistant Professor and Head of Scene Design for the Department of Theatre.