John Dalziel

Technical Director. Designer. Triathlete.

12:1 Student to Faculty Ratio
12:1 Student to Faculty Ratio

I am a technical director and designer for the Ripon College Theatre Department, in charge of tech direction for the season, scenery, lighting sound design and crews of student designers.

A lot of people don’t realize the full process that goes into doing a theatrical production, especially from the design standpoint. I often tell people that my own parents probably don’t know exactly what it is that I do on a typical show they just know that I do the scenery or the lighting.

One of the advantages of a small school like Ripon College, especially in the Theatre Department, is that we rely heavily on students to help us run our production season.

Because of that students are given opportunities oftentimes earlier than they would at another

Institution. They may get opportunities that are simply unavailable at larger institutions. At some of the larger public universities with graduate schools it is graduate students who are getting the design work and large acting roles. At Ripon College, undergraduates get design work and acting roles. Freshman can get on stage right from the get-go. We welcome everyone from day one.

Many of the students we get may or may not major in Theatre. For some of them this is just what they like to do. And within that, some of the majors in Theatre who may be more performance-based are here to do both and are as interested in doing something technical.

Learn more about Theatre at Ripon and Fine Arts Scholarships.

"At Ripon, undergraduates get design work and acting roles... Freshman can get on stage right from the get-go."

It’s rewarding to see the students’ growth throughout their time here.

Some students come in and they’ve never done much of anything in the theatre other than maybe painting a little bit of scenery or cleaning up after a play in high school. Here, they are building the scenery and acting on it later.

One of the great things about working in a small private school like this is I know my students very well. All of my students have my cellphone number at the top of the course syllabus. There have been times when a student is working on a project on a Saturday or something and they give me a call and I’m able to help them. That’s just great.

We are all on a first-name basis. I get to meet a lot of their families when they come to the shows.

Designing in 3-D

I’m primarily a scenic designer with a secondary emphasis on lighting design. The two, of course, go together. I learned traditional methods of scene design and I try to stay cutting edge with technology. I do sort of a combination of the two. While I do 3D modeling I still draw things by hand. I still paint things by hand.

One of the big things I’m into is computer aided drafting and computer-aided rendering. We recently got a 3D printer so we’ve been drawing things on the computer and printing them out w/a 3D printer. Traditional model making and scene design consists of cutting illustration board and foam core board… things like that. With the 3D printer it is very precise.



I’ve done 20 triathlons since taking up the sport in 2008; three sprint distance, 12 Olympic-distance, two half-Ironman and three Ironman.

It all started with a 5K run for charity at age 30. I used the 5K as an opportunity to shed a few pounds after giving up smoking. After my first race, I started doing more running races of various distances and found myself swimming and biking as a form of cross training. I then tried an Olympic-distance triathlon and was hooked.

To reach optimal shape for the Ironman, and hopefully reach my goal of a trip to the Ironman World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, I take practice runs of up to 28 miles. My longest run was a trail ultra-marathon stretching 31 miles. Combine that with bicycling excursions up to 125 miles and swims of up to 5 kilometers, which are longer than the Ironman distance but deemed necessary to improve my weak point.