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James Faerron

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James Faerron
NationalityCosta Rican
OccupationScenic designer, Producing Manager, Artistic Director, Theatrical producer
Known forResident set designer Campo Santo and Encore Theatre; Co-Artistic Director Encore Theatre; Producing Manager Z Space

James Faerron's extensive theatrical career began in Miami, Florida, where he worked for The Actor’s Playhouse and The Area Stage Theater Company as a set designer and technical director. His move to San Francisco in 1996 led to becoming the Technical Director and Production Manager for The Magic Theatre. While working there, James developed what became long collaborative relationships with Bay Area theater companies Campo Santo, Encore Theatre Company, and Z Space and proceeded to develop over 40 world premieres written by some of the best American playwrights. James is also an educator and is presently the Technical Theater Instructor and Technical Director for San Francisco University High School, a position he has held since 2004.[1] He has also been the Chair of the Arts Department for San Francisco University High School since 2015.

Design career

James is known as a minimalist designer. His designs focus on the word and forward movement of the script. For the past 20 years he has concentrated on developing new plays and designing sets for many World Premieres by playwrights such as Octavio Solis, Adam Bock, Erin Cressida Wilson, Denis Johnson, Naomi Iizuka, Greg Sarris, Mark Jackson, Yussef El Guindi, Loretta Grecco, José Rivera, Carl Djerassi, Dave Eggers, Philip Kan Gotanda, Kevin Fisher, Jessica Hagedorn, Teresa Walsh, Luis Saguar, Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas and Zayd Dohrn. He lives in San Francisco, California, where he was the Co-Artistic Director for Encore Theatre Company until 2016.

Selected Designs for World Premieres

  • Peter Nachtrieb, "T.I.C.," directed by Ken Prestininzi (Encore Theater)
  • Zayd Dohrn, "Sick," directed by Aimee Hayes (Southern Rep)
  • Junot Diaz, "Fuku Americanus," based on his book "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao", (Campo Santo)
  • Octavio Solis, “Bethlehem,” directed by Octavio Solis (Campo Santo)
  • Octavio Solis, “The Ballad of Pancho and Lucy,” directed by Octavio Solis (Campo Santo)
  • Octavio Solis, “June in a Box,” directed by Octavio Solis (Campo Santo)
  • Adam Bock, “Five Flights,” directed by Kent Nicholson (Encore Theatre)
  • Adam Bock, “The Shaker Chair,” directed by Tracy Ward (Encore Theatre and Shotgun Player)
  • Adam Bock, “Thursday,” directed by Kent Nicholson (Encore Theatre)
  • Adam Bock, “The Typographer’s Dream,” directed by Annie Kauffman (Encore Theatre)
  • Erin Cressida Wilson, directed by Rhodesa Jones and Margo Hall (Campo Santo) (Co-designed with Donyalle Werle)
  • Denis Johnson, “Hellhound On My Trail,” directed by Val Hendrickson (Campo Santo)
  • Denis Johnson, “Shoppers Carried by Escalators Into The Flames,” directed by Nancy Benjamin (Campo Santo)
  • Denis Johnson, “Psychos Never Dream,” directed by Darrel Larson (Campo Santo)
  • Denis Johnson, “Purvis,” directed by Deliah McDougall (Campo Santo)
  • Denis Johnson, “Soul of a Whore,” directed by Nancy Benjamin (Campo Santo)
  • Denis Johnson, Stories From “Jesus Son,” directed by Sean San Jose (Campo Santo)
  • Naomi Iizuka, “Polaroid Stories,” directed by Delia McDougall (Campo Santo)
  • Naomi Iizuka, “Hamlet: Blood in the Brain,” directed by Johnathan Moscone (Campo Santo and Cal Shakes)
  • Greg Sarris, “Joyride,” directed by Margo Hall (Campo Santo)
  • Claire Chafee, “Darwin’s Finches,” directed by Lisa Steindler (Encore Theatre)
  • Terry Tarnoff, “The Bone Man of Benares,” directed by Mark Routhier (Encore Theatre)
  • Mark Jackson, “American $uicide,” directed by Mark Jackson (Encore Theatre)
  • Adam Rapp, “Dreams of the Salthorse,” directed by Sturgis Warner (Encore Theatre)
  • Yussef El Guindi, “Back of The Throat,” directed by Tony Kelly (Golden Thread)
  • Yussef El Guindi, “Jihad Jones and the Kalishnikov Babes,” directed by Mark Routhier (Golden Thread)
  • Loretta Grecco, “Passage,” directed by John Rodaz (Area Stage and Coconut Grove Playhouse)
  • Jose Rivera, “References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot,” directed by Hector Correa (Campo Santo)
  • Carl Djerassi, “Calculus,” directed by Andrea Gordon
  • Dave Eggers, “Sacrament!,” directed by Kent Nicholson (Campo Santo)
  • Philip Kan Gotanga, “Fist of Roses,” directed by Philip Kan Gotanga (Campo Santo)
  • Kevin Fisher, “Monkey Room,” directed by Mark Routhier (Magic Theater)
  • Jessica Hagedorn, “Stairway to Heaven,” Nancy Benjamin (Campo Santo)
  • Teresa Walsh, “Body Revolution,” directed by Roberto Varea
  • Luis Saguar, “Hotel Angulo,” directed by Margo Hall (Campo Santo)
  • Jorge Ignacio Cortinas, “Maleta Mulata,” directed by Paulo Nunes-Ueno (Campo Santo)
  • Lauren Yee, "Hookman," directed by Becca Wolff Encore Theater

Other Selected Set Design Credits

  • "Skin" by Steve Yockey (Encore and Climate Theater) Directed by Mark Routhier
  • "Mauritius" by Theresa Rebeck (Magic Theatre) Directed by Loretta Grecco
  • "The Brother's Size" by Tarrel Alvin McCraney (Magic Theater) Co-designed with Sarah Sidman and directed by Octavio Solis
  • "The Seafarer" by Conor McPherson (Southern Rep) Directed by Mark Routhier
  • “Texts for Nothing” by Samuel Becket (Magic Theater) Performed by Joseph Chaiken
  • “Hidden Parts” by Lynne Alvarez (Encore Theatre) Directed by Lisa Steindler
  • “Simpatico” by Sam Shepard (Encore Theatre and Campo Santo) Directed by Margo Hall
  • “A Thousand Clowns” by Herb Gardner (Actors Playhouse, Miami Fl.) Directed by David Arisco
  • “The Last of the Red Hot Lovers” (Actors Playhouse, Miami Fl.) Directed by David Arisco
  • “Tomfoolery” (Actors Playhouse, Miami Fl.) Directed by David Arisco
  • “Five Flights” (Rattlestick Playwright's Theater - NYC) Directed by Kent Nicholson
  • Selected Musicals: Oliver!, A... My Name is Alice, West Side Story, A Chorus Line, Gun Metal Blues, Anything Goes, Pippin.

Selected Producing Credits

  • "HOOKMAN" by Lauren Yee, directed by Becca Wolff. Encore Theatre Company.
  • "Hundred Days" by Abigail and Shaun Bengson with playwright Kate E. Ryan directed by Anne Kauffman (Encore Theatre Company and Z Space)
  • "Weightless" by Kate Kilbane (Encore Theatre)
  • "Afghanistan, Zimbabwe, America, Kuwait" written and directed by Daniel Talbott (Encore Theatre)
  • "Circle Mirror Transformation" by Annie Baker (Encore Theatre and Marin Theatre Company)
  • "The Companion Piece" conceived by Beth Wilmurt and directed by Mark Jackson (Encore Theatre and Z Space)
  • "Octopus" by Steve Yockey (Encore Theatre and Magic Theatre)
  • “Five Flights” by Adam Bock (Encore Theatre, San Francisco; Rattlestick Playwright's Theater, NYC)
  • “The Shaker Chair” by Adam Bock (Encore Theatre and Shotgun Players, San Francisco)
  • “Simpatico” by Sam Shepard (Encore Theatre and Campo Santo, San Francisco)
  • “The Trail of Her Inner Thigh” by Erin Cressida Wilson (Campo Santo, San Francisco)
  • “Hidden Parts” by Lynne Alvarez (Encore Theatre, San Francisco)
  • "In On It" written and directed by Daniel MacIvor (Encore Theatre, San Francisco)
  • “Thursday” by Adam Bock (Encore Theatre Company)
  • “I Think I Like Girls” by Leigh Fondakowsiki (Encore Theatre and Black Sheep, San Francisco)
  • “Darwin’s Finches” by Claire Chaffee (Encore Theatre, San Francisco)
  • “The Typographer’s” Dream by Adam Bock (Encore Theatre, San Francisco)
  • “Dreams of a Salthorse” by Adam Rapp (Encore Theatre, San Francisco)
  • “The Bone Man of Benares” (Encore Theatre, San Francisco)
  • “American $uicide” by Mark Jackson (Encore Theatre and Z-Studio, San Francisco)
  • "Skin" by Steve Yockey (Encore Theatre and Climate Theater, San Francisco)

Other Credits

  • Co-Artistic Director/ Resident Set Designer: Encore Theatre. 1998-2017
  • Producing Manager: Z SPACE. 2009-2014
  • Company member and resident Set Designer: Campo Santo. 1998-2006
  • Design Consultant: "The Lily's Revenge" by Taylor Mac (Magic Theatre)
  • Tour Stage Manager / Set Designer: “Encuentros del Son” (Mexico, California Tour)
  • Road Manager: “Klezmer Mania” (North America Tour)
  • Stage Manager: “Gamelan Sekar Jaya” (North America Tour)
  • Production Manager and Technical Director: Magic Theater, San Francisco. 1996-1999
  • Technical Director and Resident Set Designer: Actor’s Playhouse, Miami, FL. 1992-1996
  • Resident Set Designer: Area Stage Theater Company, Miami, FL 1994-1996


  • Z SPACE - San Francisco
  • Encore Theatre Company - San Francisco
  • piecebypiece"
  • Campo Santo - San Francisco
  • The Climate Theater - San Francisco
  • The Magic Theater - San Francisco
  • Word For Word - San Francisco
  • Rattlestick Playwright's Theater - New York
  • Shotgun Players - Berkeley;
  • Intersection For The Arts - San Francisco;
  • East Bay Center For The Arts - Oakland;
  • Noh Space - San Francisco;
  • American Conservatory Theater - San Francisco
  • The Aurora Theater - Berkeley
  • The Actors’ Playhouse - Coral Gables, FL
  • Golden Thread Productions - San Francisco
  • Thick Description - San Francisco
  • The ESP Project - San Francisco
  • The Djerassi Foundation - Woodside, CA
  • Area Stage Theater Company - Miami, FL
  • CAL Shakes - Orinda, CA
  • Southern Rep - New Orleans, LA
  • San Francisco University High School - San Francisco
  • University of San Francisco - San Francisco

Selected Awards

  • Best Set Design, Bay Area Critics Circle, for "Hellhound On My Trail" by Denis Johnson
  • Outstanding Set Design, Goodman Award, for "Hellhound On My Trail" by Denis Johnson
  • Outstanding Set Design, Goodman Award, for "Hidden Parts" by Lynne Alvarez
  • Outstanding Set Design, Goodman Award, for "Polaroid Stories" by Naomi Iizuka
  • Best Set Design, Carbonell Award Nomination, for "Passages" by Loretta Grecco

Selected Reviews

“Hidden Parts” San Francisco Examiner – “Steindler and her designers make excellent use of the Thick's tall, narrow performance space. Faerron's striking set uses two rows of tall, late-summer-tasseled cornstalks to suggest vast fields, with a two-tiered, nightmarishly skewed farmhouse growing out of the opposite wall. The crazy-angled upper porch, with its antique rocker, is the aerie from which crude, menacing, hawk-eyed family patriarch Thomas Arn (John Robb) surveys his domain. The patio below - with its half-heartedly festive party decorations - is the realm of his nervous, absent-minded wife Cynthia (Nancy Madden).”

“Back of The Throat” San Francisco Chronicle – “James Faerron's grungy, low-rent, basement apartment set is a character- defining extension of the semi-bohemian, intellectually curious, impoverished would-be writer Khaled”

“Monkey Room” Talking Broadway – “James Faerron has devised a breathtaking meticulous lab room that is perfect in every detail.”

“Shaker Chair” Talking Broadway – “James Faerron has devised a strikingly pristine set with a plain beige wall with an entrance doorway and two significant chairs: a stern Shaker chair and a more comfortable chair.” San Francisco Chronicle - “Dolly wallows self-indulgently in her personal soap opera and a broad, decadently comfortable armchair - the only such luxury in James Faerron's strikingly pristine set, its spartan white walls and clean lines echoing the architecture of the former church that's become Shotgun's Ashby Stage.”

“Beirut / Kvetch” Miami News – “Scenic designer James Faerron turns the stage into a cavernous hovel by using a pastiche of hurricane shutters, graffiti, and wood. This intricate set finds itself transformed on alternating nights when an entirely different show, the two-act Kvetch, takes the stage. The new set, a black-and-white op-art representation of the inside of a neurotic brain (designed, again, by Faerron) proves to be the most imaginative aspect of this overwrought comedy...”

“Hellhound On My Trail” Berkeley Daily Planet – “James Faerron’s set is quite striking. Windows downstage left and right plunge upstage center with a highly exaggerated angle of perspective. In the first act, with the addition of well-used wooden furniture, it is a schoolish bureaucratic interrogation room. In the second act, a hotel coffee shop. In the third act, a no-frills Texas motel.”

“Psychos Never Dream” San Francisco Weekly – “James Faerron has built an ideal split-level set, with crisp town scenes on top and disordered farm scenes below...” San Francisco Chronicle – “...as James Faerron's inventively versatile set – beautifully used by Larson throughout – unfolds to reveal a stunningly shoddy ranch interior...”

“Five Flights” Curtain Up – “James Faerron's abstract set manages to accommodate it all, including some modest projections to announce the "scenes" and a locker room encounter that creates a mini-hockey match with an empty shampoo bottle retrieved from an off-stage shower.” San Francisco Chronicle – “Everything rises on an updraft with the script. James Faerron's set, exquisitely lit by David Szlasa, uses a few white benches and a French curve to say everything that's required.”

“Pancho and Lucy” San Francisco Chronicle – “James Faerron's set, creatively lit by Jim Cave, is a perfect low-rent bar, from its odd art and half-working beer signs to its Elvis-bedecked corner bandstand….” SF Guardian – “... sharply choreographed by codirector Erika Schuch on James Faerron's lovingly detailed, atmospheric set.”

“The Typographer’s Dream” San Francisco Chronicle – “The stage is stripped to its bare walls for Faerron's creatively spare set, the floor covered with a network of schematic architectural outlines that will set up a clever homage-lampoon riff on Lars von Trier's "Dogville."”

“Soul of a Whore” San Francisco Chronicle – “Masha's, John's and HT's lives continue to intertwine with Jenks' as the action moves from bus station to intensive care unit to death row, each location beautifully suggested by shifts of the concrete-like, structural frames of James Faerron's set and changes in Jim Cave's architectural lights and Drew Yerys' ambient sound effects.”

“June in a Box” San Francisco Chronicle – “Composer Beth Custer and accordionist Isabel Douglass strike up an engaging corrido, framed in an odd trapezoid window in the patchwork junkyard wall of James Faerron's striking set.”

“Stairway to Heaven” Oakland Tribune – “....she cooks elaborate meals in a dingy apartment (the wonderfully stained, crumbling set is by James Faerron) and dictates her eloquent, poetic memories to Mickey, a possible junkie, who scribbles it all into a notebook.”


  1. ^ "James Faerron - San Francisco University High School - RateMyTeachers". RateMyTeachers.com.
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