Luke Cantarella works primarily as designer of scenery and video. He has designed over one hundred productions including work for the theater, opera, dance, film, television and commercial design. Theaters he has worked at include the Atlantic Theater Company, the MUNY, American Repertory Theater, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Yale Rep, Seattle Rep, Asolo Rep, Prince Music Theater, Northlight Theater, Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Rozentheater (Amsterdam), Cleveland Playhouse, Lyric Theater of Oklahoma, Berkshire Theater Festival, TheaterWorks Hartford, Barrington Stage Company, Adirondack Theater Festival, CITY Theater, HERE, Synapse Productions, Theaterworks USA, New World Stages, and many others. He has designed operas for Sante Fe Opera, Des Moines Metro Opera, Center for Contemporary Opera, Wolftrap, Curtis, Peabody and the New England Conservatory of Music. Dance companies Luke has worked for include The Wooden Floor, REDCAT, Sens Productions/Whitney Biennial, Hartford Ballet and the Eastern Connecticut Ballet.
Current projects include Bluebeard’s Castle (Des Moines Metro Opera) and designs for the 2023 U.S. National Exhibit for the Prague Quadrennial.
Film and television credits as a set designer include work on Players (Netflix), The Summer I Turned Pretty (Amazon Studios), The Plot Against America (HBO), Call Jane (Roadside Attracations), FBI (CBS/Universal), The President is Missing (Showtime), Only Murders in the Building (Disney+), Jules (Big Beach), Julie & Julia (Columbia), The Accidental Husband (Yari/Blumhouse), Synecdoche NY (Sony Pictures Classics), State of Play (Working Title/Relativity), and The Pink Panther 2 (MGM/Columbia). In addition, Luke art directed season two of the Emmy-Award winning series Damages (FX). With his colleague Adrian Jones, he was designed display advertising for Grand Marnier/LVMH, TekServe and Smithson of Bond Street.
Luke’s creative work often extends beyond the theater. He works extenstively in the field of design anthropology with his collaborators Christine Hegel and George Marcus. Their projects have included include 214 Sq. Ft., a mobile motel room developed in coordination with Project Hope Alliance, Trade is Sublime, a three-channel video installation at the World Trade Organization, Yes, We’re Open, an fictional storefront that examines gentrification in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, and Feel the Thunder, an examination of the valuing of labor and talent in a Finnish Hockey Club. In 2018, they published a monograph, Ethnography-by-Design: Scenographic Interventions in Fieldwork (Routledge) that examines this modality. Luke has co-led workshops in design thinking for anthropologists at the University of California-Irvine, University of Western Ontario, Wesleyan University, Art Center Collge of Design (Pasadena) and the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Luke received his M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama in 2000. He completed his undergraduate work at Northwestern University, where he earned a B.S. in Speech in 1994. In addition Luke has studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Art Students League, and The Drawing Center.
Currently, Luke is a Professor and Chair of the Film and Screen Studies Department at Pace University. Luke joined the faculty at Pace in the fall of 2012 where he helped found the B.F.A program in Design and Production. Prior to Pace, Luke ran the M.F.A. program in Set Design at the University of California-Irvine.
He has a lovely daughter named Tosca and a very talented wife, Christine Hegel, a legal and economic anthropologist who teaches at Western Connecticut State University
when I’m not in dark rooms desiging stuff, I love getting out into the woods with my daughter, dog and our canoe!