Designing collaboration

This New Orleans-born Tiger ditched her law school plans to accept a scene-design assistantship and never looked back. She has worked all over the country, and today, she combines her love of art and theatre –not only to design sets, but to create opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration with Clemson faculty and students to infuse arts with science, technology, engineering and math.

Meet Shannon Robert.

Title: Associate professor of scene design

Years at Clemson: Five years — I did do some guest design work and lecturing prior to that.

What I do at Clemson: I am the faculty scene designer for the theatre program. I work with students and our design staff to create environments for our productions at the Brooks Center. I run the CREATE living and learning community for the College of Arts, Architecture and Humanities (CAAH) and am the faculty-in-residence for the Shoeboxes. I work with the STEAM Network for CAAH and the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. I am one of a small group who coordinates our Clemson STEAM booth for Artisphere.

What I love about Clemson: Working with students and colleagues in a college where people are supportive of creative work (like theatre). Our program attracts students from multiple disciplines to participate in what we do. I love that we all embrace this. It makes us richer.

Accomplishment I’m most proud of: I was one of the creativity professors for CAAH for the past couple of years. I’m very excited about the work and research I did on designing for devised work in a collaborative setting (work that evolves during the process, because it is not defined in advance of all collaborators having creative input). I am seeking out more projects with directors using this approach to creating theatre. It isn’t always possible, or even effective, but when it works, it is very satisfying artistically. It is like a Bespoke suit – the environment created fits the production in every way because it is custom made for every aspect of it. This is not a singular accomplishment, but part of an artistic discovery that I have made about my process.

Where I see myself in five years: Working alongside students in an improved shop space that has adequate storage and up-to-date technology and equipment. Also, taking students with me more regularly when I design professionally away from the university (because we will be getting more support for student co-curricular research and training in five years).

Last thing I watched on TV: The Handmaid’s Tale

Guilty pleasure: Munchos – terrible. I like the texture, the aftertaste and the way they dissolve in my mouth. Gross, huh?

One thing most people don’t know about me: I can do a great baby crying impression. Ask me and I will do it for you.

That’s great..what else? I love to dance. I am as clumsy as it is possible to be. I am terrible at darts and pool. I sing in the car (loudly). I know only one joke. It is really good.

Want to nominate a colleague to be featured in Meet a Tiger? Contact Jackie Todd at