Alumni Spotlight: David Martin Sunderland

We are extremely proud of our students’ accomplishments and look forward to seeing how they improve our world with their many talents. Today we have the immense pleasure of introducing Carnegie Mellon Fellowship awardee David Martin Sunderland.

What have you been up to since leaving CCBC?

Since leaving CCBC I have received my 4-year degree in Theatre Design and Production from Towson. In that time period I also worked as an overhire stagehand for IATSE Local 19 in Baltimore as well as maintaining employment at CCBC Essex as a teacher’s assistant to Terri Raulie as well as a carpenter/electrician for the scene shop. I recently was accepted into Carnegie Mellon’s MFA program for Technical Direction which is more or less a dream come true, and something I can still hardly believe has come to fruition.

What art projects are you currently working on and how does it compare to your work at CCBC?

While not exactly theatre related, I have been doing a lot of collaging over the course of the pandemic. But most of what I do in the arts is process based rather than creativity based. To that end I have been expanding the ways with which I can facilitate art. I have been sharpening my welding skills as well as my understanding of CAD programs such as AutoCAD and Vectorworks.

What’s your current art process like? How does it compare to when you were at CCBC?

My process has changed a lot throughout the years and it depends on the kind of work that I am doing. For the planning phases of any assignment I tend to keep a notebook with all of my ideas and an updated list of parameters that the task or project require. This notebook is constantly updated and my reflections are typically drawn in alongside it. Then when it comes time to actually sit down and make up a solid plan I start pulling from this notebook, culling either outdated or inviable options and letting the better pieces rise to the top. Eventually this makes a framework that I use to plan out the rest of it. I’d say this is similar to how my process was while I was at CCBC except I have learned to rely less on the input of others for guidance and trust my instincts more than when I was a student. While I was at CCBC my professor Terri Raulie was constantly steering me in the right direction and looking at the bigger picture of theatre so that my work can complement the production rather than get in the way of my fellow artists.

How do you see your work growing in the future?

I am hoping that, after I complete my MFA, I will be able to go work in corporate production for a couple years (both to gain a new perspective on my industry and also to pay down some student debts). After that, I hope to find a LORT theatre that I can set up semi-permanent residence at as their technical director. Eventually I may want to go into teaching, but I definitely need a good decade or more of work experience before I feel I will be ready to communicate my process to students in a reliable way.

If you had to give advice to your younger self, what would it be?

If I had to give myself advice, it would be to trust the little voice in the back of my head that wanted to work in theatre for a living back when I first heard it rather than waiting. Finding a purpose and having a job worth doing well are a privilege and on the hardest days of this job I sometimes still forget that. For me, my journey at CCBC has been one of self-discovery and building confidence to tell myself and others that it’s okay to do what I want with my life. And it is one that was constantly supported by the Performing Arts faculty at CCBC.

David Martin Sunderland
David Martin Sunderland
David Martin Sunderland mace
Mace made with a Miller Plasma Cutter and Miller Stick Welder for a weapon project at Towson University. 1/4" Plate Steel and 1" Steel Round Stock
David Martin Sunderland shadow design
Shadow Design for "Macbeth" at CCBC in Fall 2016.
David Martin Sunderland end table
End Table created using a Hossfeld Bender, Iron Jaws IV Iron Worker, Shaper, and Miller Stick Welder
David Martin Sunderland fluted column drafting
Fluted column drafting created using Vectorworks

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