Jim Niesel returns to Theatre Projects

August 25, 2015

Theatre Projects is excited to welcome Jim Niesel back as our project manager and theatre equipment/audio-video designer! Jim began his theatre consulting career at Theatre Projects back in 2001 before joining Arup in 2007, where he went on to take a leading role in the company’s New York and Australasia theatre consulting practices. While at Arup, Jim worked on a number of iconic performance spaces including the Sydney Opera House and the Metropolitan Opera House. Now, back where he began, Jim is looking forward to the collaborative environment at Theatre Projects and having a part in the extraordinary performance spaces that we design.

"I came back for the opportunity to work in a smaller, more focused firm," Jim said. "When you’re working in a firm with 300 people, you’re not all going to be moving in the same direction. Each person has a different approach, and a slightly different goal, which can be frustrating."

Another reason for returning was his admiration for Richard Pilbrow, founder of Theatre Projects, and his philosophical approach to theatre design. "Richard had it right. What makes good theatre is the interaction between people and the intimacy that you can only experience when you’re so close to performers," Jim said. "I like fostering that kind of environment."

Jim’s post-graduate days as a shop foreman, stage tech, and A/V designer were formative in his desire to design spaces for performance. "I wanted to make a difference in the spaces I saw," he said. "As a technician, you see a lot of bad designs out there and think 'people should have thought this out better.’ There’s a real opportunity to make spaces that support the shared experience between the actor and audience, so everyone can have that amazing experience."

According to Jim, some of his favorite projects throughout his career include Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota—an $88 million renovation of a 4,000-seat theatre into a 2,700-seat venue and the Jerome Robbins Theatre at the Baryshnikov Arts Center —a dance theatre carved out of two floors of a Manhattan high-rise (with Arup), and the Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre—a marvel of theatre design and flexibility, capable of transforming into proscenium, thrust, arena, traverse, and flat floor and the Williams College, '62 Center for Theatre and Dance—a beautiful, multi-venue arts center featuring one of the world’s most stunning and adaptable studio theatres (with Theatre Projects).

In his free time, he enjoys relaxing with his wife and three cats, fixing up his home in Stratford, Connecticut, and riding his motorcycle. He is a member of the Long Beach Long Riders, an organization that supports two other charities: Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and The PLASA Foundation's Behind the Scenes program with annual fundraising rides. He is an ETCP certified Theatre Rigger and a member of the American Society of Theatre Consultants.

Jim Niesel returns to Theatre Projects
Credit: Lora Karam Photography