SF State alumni Greg Dunham has worked as the scene shop director at State for the past 19 years, encouraging students to pursue a career in theater.
“I love this job I can’t imagine doing anything else, it’s a perfect fit for me,” Dunham said with warmth.
Dunham, 63, was born in Fresno and raised in Red Bluff, California, where he studied set design. He has helped construct various musicals, plays, and operas throughout the Bay Area. Dunham was most recently involved in the production of the musical “Hair” at SF State, which had a sold-out crowd opening night.
Jack Weinstock, a cinema major and scene shop assistant, had very positive accolades to give about his work with Dunham.
“He is an extraordinarily cheerful and positive person,” Weinstock said. “I’d rather be here honestly than anywhere else.”
Dunham’s favorite production he has worked on was the play Rhinoceros, written by Eugéne Ionesco in 1959. The play takes place in a small town in France where people start turning into rhinoceroses. The main character is trying to fight off his chance of turning into a rhinoceros.
“The play is a metaphor for the experience in Eastern Europe of when the Communists took over,” said Dunham.
For the set design, Dunham made the rhinoceroses with stacks of cardboard wine cases that he gathered. He also glued big pieces of paper with wallpaper paste onto the outside of the stocks.
“At one point one of the stacks falls on cue, just tumbles over and falls apart on stage,” said Dunham.
Set design isn’t simply just about building props. However, “the trick is to create an environment that supports the message or the action of the play” Dunham said.
What continues to drive Dunham in the position that he’s in is that it brings many facets of life that hold value to him together. From working on creative projects, using his hands and working with others to literature.
“It was a lot easier and cheaper to be a student 20, 30, 40 years ago and now it’s just a real bitch economically.”
Dunham hasn’t been as committed to set design as he was earlier in his career because he wants to focus on his own personal projects. He’s been writing about “The Iliad” and the “Odyssey,” poems written by Homer.
“The more I looked the more it was revealed,” Dunham said.