At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, the Department of Theatre brought on set designer and ACU alumni David Utley to its staff to help teach, design and mentor in the department.
Utley got his start in design during his time as an undergraduate at ACU in the theatre department. After starting as an actor at ACU, he quickly found a passion for design, after being asked to design puppets for a show.
Upon graduating from ACU in 1999, he attended graduate school at The University of Texas, where he studied scene design. After graduating there, Utley went on to work on the 2005 film “Man of the House” as an art department production assistant with ACU alumni and mentor Nelson Coates.
From there, Utley moved to Los Angeles and began to add to his resume. Throughout the years, Utley has worked on movies such as “The Proposal” and “The Nice Guys.” Along with TV shows such as “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Glee.”
As his career continued, Utley found himself doing more work at his computer and less with his hands.
“I realized I had been working at my computer so much it just didn’t feel real to me,” said Utley.
After teaching high school theatre for a year, he was excited when he was approached by the theatre department to come on staff.
“I love ACU, and the fact that I’ve stayed connected to the professors even after I graduated; it feels like a family,” said Utley.
In his short time at ACU, Utley has been the designer for department productions “American Son,” “Beau Jest,” and the upcoming show “Songs for a New World.” On each of these shows, Utley has also been mentoring students working in set design for the shows.
Hannah Raymond, a senior theater major from Mansfield, said Utley has been helping her with her work on “Beau Jest,” where she is the props designer.
“He’s been very good at walking me through the stages to help set me to be able to do it myself,” said Raymond.
Utley has always enjoyed teaching future members of the industry.
“I really liked the idea of doing what Nelson Coates did for me, you know passing knowledge on,” said Utley. “There’s not many handbooks on how to do this stuff.”