Luke Cantarella is a designer of scenery and spaces for performance. Currently a resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Luke was born outside of Philadelphia, studied at Northwestern University and received his M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama. Luke currently runs the set design program at Pace University in New York City. From 2008-2012 he ran the set design program at the University of California-Irvine. Additionally Luke coordinates USA 829’s Digital Resources program and is a member of the Wingspace Design Collective.
Luke has designed scenery for over 130 productions around the country and internationally. Regional theater credits include the American Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Rep, Cleveland Playhouse, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Yale Repertory Theater, Repertory Theater of St. Louis, Prince Music Theater, Berkshire Theater Festival, TheaterWorks (Hartford), Barrington Stage Company, City Theater, Lyric Theater of Oklahoma, Adirondack Theater Festival, Northlight Theater, Theater J and many others.
Luke’s has designed operas for Peabody/Baltimore Opera (Don Giovanni, The Rake’s Progress, La Traviata), Curtis Institute (Cosi Fan Tutte), Wolftrap (La Clemenza di Tito) and the New England Conservatory of Music (Albert Herring).
Dance projects include numerous pieces for The Wooden Floor with choreographers Mark Haim, Jeff Slayton, Melanie Rios-Glaser, and Susan Rethorst; Karinne Keithley-Syers’ Another Tree Dance at the Mount Tremper Arts/Chocolate Factory, Patrick Corbin’s Constrained, Noemie LaFrance’s Noir (2004 Whitney Biennial), and The Sacre Project created in collaboration with media artist John Crawford and choreographers Lisa Naugle, Chad Hall and Jodie Gates for the Segerstrom Center for the Performance Arts/Pacific Symphony.
His New York credits include the premieres of Keith Reddin’s Human Error (The Atlantic Theater Company), William Finn’s Make Me a Song (New World Stages), and projects at the Lucille Lortel, HERE Arts Center, Connolly Theater, Sheen Center, The Lambs. He is currently represented off-B’Way with Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man (Matt Murphy Productions/777 Theater).
Internationally, his work has been seen at the Arts Theater (London West End), Rozen Theater (Amsterdam), American University-Cairo, and the Interferences Festival (Cluj, Romania).
In compliment to his work as a scenic designer, Luke creates projects in design ethnography, a hybrid form that uses design thinking as a tool for social-science research. Working in collaboration with Christine Hegel and George Marcus, cultural anthropologists, their projects include 214 Sq. Ft (2012), a multi-sited installation work that recreates a motel room as inhabited by a family of six developed with Project Hope, an advocacy group for homeless families in Orange County, California; Trade is Sublime (2013), a multi-channel video installation of three improvised dance films created as an intervention at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland; and their current project Marshall v Stern, an investigation of the bankruptcy case of Vicki Lynn (a/k/a Anna Nicole Smith) and the effects of great wealth on legal processes in the United States created in dialogue with legal scholar Justin Richland.