Susan Crabtree

Furnishing Your Backdrop

Susan Crabtree is a Master Scenic Artist and the co-author of Scenic Art for the Theatre: History, Tools, and Techniques. Crabtree received an M.A. in Theatre with a technical emphasis at the University of Northern Colorado. She studied painting and history for 3 months at the Italian Fine Arts Conservatory La Poggerina. She is currently enrolled in the Ph. D. program at the University of Colorado in Theatre History, especially 18th and 19th century backdrops. The goal of her research is to find caches of images that theatrical designers and scenicartist may not be aware of and to be instrumental in finding a means of making the images of these collection accessible to those that don’t have the means of traveling to the collections. To this end Susan has viewed and studied collections at the Lee Lash Institute in Columbus Ohio, The Museum of the City of New York, the library archives at the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities, Theatre of the Fraternity), the Lyric Opera Collection, the Theatre Museum in Covent Gardens, the Victoria Albert Museum, the Uffizi in Florence Italy, The Museum Archives of the Teatro Olympico and the Pinacoteca in Vecenza Italy.

Susan has charged and worked as Scenic Artist for over 20 years for many notable companies: Denver Center Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Indiana Repertory, Tobins Lake Studios, Wichita Music Theatre, University of Michigan, Indiana Starlight Theatre, Kenmark, Inc. Her interest in 19th century backdrops began during her tenure at Tobins Lake, as historically rental drops tended to be of this style. In 1987 Susan began teaching Scenic Painting at the University of Michigan adding the responsibility of Paintshop Manager in 1991 to her teaching responsibilities.It was during her tenure at Michigan that Susan and Peter Beudert signed the contract to write Scenic Art for the Theatre. Susan relocated back to Denver in 1998 to devote herself fulltime to her business, Crabtree Scenic and Specialty Painting, and to commence her Ph.D. studies.