Texas Tech University

(Re)Introducing Jared Roberts, Assistant Professor of Scenic and Performance Design

Rachel Phillips

September 23, 2022

Jared Roberts

Although Jared Roberts is new to the School of Theatre and Dance faculty, he is not new to the school. Roberts joined the School's staff as Technical Director in 2016 and has played a key role in making Texas Tech classes and productions a success ever since.

Long before he came to Tech, he grew up in a small town in Texas, who did theater for fun. When he went off to college, he wasn't sure what to study, so he pursued theater, he thought temporarily, because he enjoyed theatre, but life had other plans.

Roberts discovered design and technical theater and fell in love with it. He continued to explore the craft by working in summer stock throughout his college years where he was exposed to professional artists: “I just started emulating them as best as I could and trying to capture things that were interesting about them or interesting about the work that they were doing.”

Roberts also fell in love with storytelling, and as someone who has always been able to picture the locations in his mind when reading stories, scenic design became a natural fit. He went on to earn his Master of Fine Arts in the Scenic Design at the University of Washington.

Roberts applied for the open position of Technical Director at Texas Tech mainly because he believed he was a good fit. Since arriving in Lubbock, Roberts found he likes the way the arts scene is developing in the city and enjoys being central to several other major cities. His love of the people at Texas Tech is also a big factor in keeping him here: “I've stayed here because I like working with my colleagues, and I've enjoyed their company. It's hard to step away. I wouldn't want to do that because they are such great people.”

An example of the spirit of the people at the Texas Tech School of Theatre and Dance exists in one of Robert's favorite memories. He describes the first tech rehearsal for Hands on a Hardbody staged under a tent at McGavock Nissan in 2018. It was a cold, dreary evening and there was a downpour. A leak in the tent threatened the band instruments, and Roberts recalls everyone on site quickly banding together to fix the issue by moving the seating arrangement and the band to keep everything safe.

“It was a unique and amazing experience to be at,” he says.

When the Assistant Professor of Scenic & Performance Design position became open, Roberts saw an opportunity offer students a unique perspective that he feels will be valuable to them in the industry, one that melds his experience as a technical director with his experience as a designer. This perspective will be helpful to students as they navigate an industry in which the number of technical directors is dwindling.

His new role will also give him more opportunities to mentor students, and he looks forward to helping them navigate the ways that scenic design is growing, including the increase in digital scenery, the use of virtual reality, and the development of new construction fabrication techniques.

Roberts reports he is settling in well to the job of professor though, of course, it's not without its challenges: “The biggest thing for me specifically is how do I take off my TD hat and fully become the scenic design professor.” 

FBN setAs he continues in his new position, Roberts is excited to have more opportunities to design shows, both at Texas Tech, where he is currently working on Fly By Night, and beyond. He also looks forward to using these opportunities to help students build professional experience and connections.

Roberts promises, “Any time I design outside of Texas Tech, a student of mine will be connected with me.”

He will also continue working on his research on the topic of leadership within the arts world. Roberts describes how having leadership opportunities “thrust upon” him made him want to figure out how to be a better leader in the arts, especially to tackle the ever-transforming field. For Roberts, leadership is a skill that should be employed at all levels of an organization.

“Leadership is not authority,” he says. “Leadership is both up and down the chain of command.”

Since Roberts is not new to Texas Tech, he recommends Lubbock activities to his many colleagues who are new to the area. He suggests having a meal at Thai Pepper, visiting the First Friday Art Trail, taking advantage of the farmer's markets, and checking out fall activities at At'l Do Farms. Plus, he says everyone should attend at least one football game.

For those theater people skeptical of football, he says, “Really, it's just two improv teams doing an improv battle.”

Welcome to the faculty, Professor Roberts!