Seventh annual Rock Band Project lights up the stage

Part final project and part rock concert, the Colorado State University theatre program presents the seventh annual Rock Band Project on Wednesday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m. in the University Theatre at the University Center for the Arts, located at 1400 Remington St.

The event is free and open to the public.

The final project for CSU’s TH264 Lighting Design Fundamentals course is presented by Price Johnston, associate professor of lighting, sound, and projection design, together with his students.

photo of bandEver since the first Guitar Hero game was released in 2005, Johnston has been using these music rhythm video games as a way to liven up his classroom. He has found that bringing the video game into the classroom has really helped with generating creative passion in his students.

“Lighting design finals tend to be boring,” Johnston said. “And anybody can do a music project. So I said, ‘Why don’t we do something more fun with this project?”

The event serves as the final project for the lighting design course, where each student is assigned a song for which they create the lighting design. The students in the course are then divided up into bands of four, with whom they perform the songs on stage in front of a live audience.

“When any student gets connected to a project where they feel like it is fun and they can be creative and expressive at the same time, there are no bounds to what you can assign them,” Johnston says.

As Johnston’s brain child, the Rock Band Project is now finding its way into other universities.

In 2011, Johnston wrote an article detailing the program in, “How I Did That: Rock and Load with Rock Band” in Live Design Magazine, a technical journal for live entertainment professionals. He now sees his inbox swell in size due to teachers and professors asking about the Rock Band Project and how they can bring it to their schools.

This unique final exam is open to the public, because it is not just a final – it is a true performance event. Students are dressed up and play with their bands on stage with the lighting they designed flashing around them.

Release your inner rock star, and join them for the Rock Band Project. Remember to wear those skin-tight leopard-print pants that have been gathering dust in the back of your closet, and that Brett Michaels headband that you swore you would never wear again; you will need both!

photo of Johnston
Price Johnston

About Price Johnston

Price Johnston’s career in design has spanned theatre, dance and opera in both the U.S. and abroad. With work in cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Moscow, Athens (Greece), London, Atlanta, St. Petersburg (Russia) and Denver, he has designed more than 160 productions. His credits include the world premiere of Jomandi Productions’ Lavender Lizards Lilac Landmines: Layla’s Dream by Tony-nominated playwright Ntozake Shange (14th Street Playhouse – Atlanta, Ga., and the 2004 National Black Theatre Festival), the off-Broadway production of Two Rooms (Trilogy Theatre & New York), Guys & Dolls (2000 British tour), and the world premieres of Huckleberry Finn: The Musical, and A Southern Christmas Carol (Cotton Hall Theatre), written by award-winning playwright/director Rob Lauer. Read more.

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The University Center for the Arts at Colorado State University provides an enriched venue in which the study and practice of Art, Dance, Music, and Theatre are nurtured and sustained by building the skills and knowledge needed by future generations of arts professionals to become contributors to the essential vitality of our culture and society.

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Story by Emma Schenkenberger