Structural Design for the Stage

 Cal Shakes’ Technical Director Steven Schmidt is offering a three-part foundational course on how to approach structural challenges in theater. Designed for all technical staff —from seasoned technical directors to emerging technicians—the class seeks to provide an understanding of why “sets stand up” in order to safely meet the increasingly complex and challenging scenic designs of today’s industry.

Registration for the Introductory Section is now closed. Technicians with more experience are more than welcome to sign up for Section 2 or 3. Specific class dates to be announced.

All classes will take place on  Zoom.

Structural Design for the Stage

War of the Roses
War of the Roses (2018); Photo by Kevin Berne

Structural Design for the Stage will be broken into 3 sections. Each section will include 2 hours of Zoom instruction plus 2-4 hours of homework per week for 8 weeks. Students who fulfill all the requirements will receive a certificate of completion at the end of the course.

Cost: $400/section or $1,000 for all three sections.  Payment plans are also available on a term or monthly basis. Participants will also need a copy of Structural Design for the Stage (2nd Edition).

Payment Plans: In addition to paying for all 3 sections in full, we are offering two other payment options with the first payment due at the start of class.

      • Three quarterly payments of $333

      • Eight monthly payments of $125

If you are unable to afford the whole tuition, we invite you to complete our Tuition Assistance Application. Tuition assistance will prioritize BIPOC applicants. Though funds are limited, our ideal scenario is to reduce barriers to participation. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions around financial assistance or access needs. 

Recommended for: technical directors, assistant technical directors, head carpenters, riggers, professionals who are familiar with the first edition of the text, and any technician with a desire to understand the math behind why sets stand up (and more importantly, why they don’t).

What about the math…while this text includes a lot of math, it is written for theater technicians, not engineers. A basic understanding of algebra and trigonometry is very helpful. This course does not use calculus. 

About the instructor: Steven Schmidt is the Technical Director at Cal Shakes, as well as a Co-author on the 2nd Edition of Structural Design for the Stage, and a Lecturer at UC Davis. Steven received his MFA in Technical Design and Production from the Yale School of Drama.

Please reach out to with questions.


Section 1 – Introduction – REGISTRATION CLOSED
Chapters 1-4 (Overview; Force, Stress, Strain; Stress Analysis for Beams; Geometric Properties)
Section 1 provides the base of information from which Sections 2 and 3 are built. 
Dates:  10 am -12 pm PST October 21 – December  9, 2020

Section 2 – Lumber
Chapters 5-7 (Sawn Lumber – Introduction and Beam Design; Sawn Lumber – Column Design; Sawn Lumber – Combined Loading Design)
Dates:  10 am – 12 pm PST January 20 – March 10, 2021 

Section 3 – Steel
Chapters 8-10 (Steel – Introduction and Beam Design; Steel – Column and Tension Member Design; Steel – Combined Loading Design
Dates:  10 am – 12 pm PST March 31 – May 19, 2021

Cover Photo: War of the Roses (2018); Photo by Kevin Berne.

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