John Ambrosone named chair of the Theatre and Cinema Program
John Ambrosone, associate professor of lighting design and head of the Lighting Design and Technology Program at Virginia Tech, has been named the faculty chair of the Theatre and Cinema Program in the School of Performing Arts.
Ambrosone joined Virginia Tech in 2004, his first appointment to a faculty role at a university. “When I left graduate school, it didn’t occur to me to go into teaching. A now retired faculty member at Virginia Tech reached out to me out of the blue and asked if I would be interested in applying,” he said. At the time, he was based in Boston and designing lighting for professional theatre productions, including 13 years for the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University.
Prior to joining Virginia Tech, Ambrosone spent nearly 20 years designing for Broadway, off-Broadway, regional, and international productions. He has worked on productions in several countries, including France, Russia, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, and Japan, and has designed for opera, dance, and special event venues in addition to his work in traditional theatre.
He has won several awards for his work in lighting design, including two awards from the Independent Reviewers of New England for Best Lighting Design, the Elliot Norton Award for Best Lighting Design, and Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston Award for Lighting Design. Ambrosone is a member of both the United Scenic Artists Local 829 and the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.
This summer, the School of Performing Arts joined the newly created College of Architecture, Arts, and Design, and Ambrosone sees many opportunities for growth as a result of the move. “We want to explore what could be possible with these schools now that they are under the same college. We are all centers of creative artistic expression, and we’ll hopefully have many opportunities to discover new interdisciplinary perspectives together,” he said.
“John is an excellent lighting designer and long-time faculty member in theatre lighting design who has been a part of the Theatre and Cinema Program through a lot of changes. I am grateful that he was willing to accept the nomination and subsequent appointment to serve as the program's chair,” said Patty Raun, professor of performance and voice, former director of the School of Performing Arts, and current director of the Virginia Tech Center for Communicating Science. “We are working collaboratively as a faculty to reimagine the undergraduate curriculum and to embrace the new opportunities present in the creation of a new college, and John will help the program navigate these transitional years.”
With this new alignment, and the Moss Arts Center, the School of Performing Arts, the School of Visual Arts, and the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology being so close to each other and to downtown Blacksburg, Ambrosone and his colleagues have hopes that long term, an expanded arts district, including architecture and design, could join seamlessly between campus and the town. “We had a college gathering last night, and everyone was truly excited about the possibilities that could arise from these changes,” he said.
In addition to the growth he anticipates within the new college, Ambrosone aims to make further inroads with engaging students from outside the school. Students who are not members of the School of Performing Arts are invited and encouraged to attend its events and audition for, or help on, theatre and cinema productions and filmmaking, and one of Ambrosone’s goals is to involve more of these students in its course offerings.
“We are working on changes to our undergraduate curriculum to expand possibilities for not only our own students but students in other majors as well. We’re eager to reach across all parts of our campus and provide them with more opportunities to experience the arts,” said Ambrosone.
Ambrosone holds a Master of Fine Arts in theatre lighting design from Virginia Tech and a bachelor's degree in theatre from State University of New York at Fredonia.