John Saari

John Saari photo

John Saari is the Head of the Design and Technical Emphasis Program in Theatre.  He designs, Sets, Lighting, Sound and is the Technical Director of most productions that the department produces. He has received the Exemplary Teacher Award in 2020, Moore Professorship in 2006 from Greensboro College.  He also received the Marian A. Smith Distinguished Career Award from the North Carolina Theatre Conference in 2017 and the United States Institute of Theatre Technology Southeast Region Founders Award in 2005.  Currently John is the Master Class Mentor for USITT-SE where he has served on the executive committee for 28 years.

John most recently (January 28, 2023), received a National Award, the URTA,  University Resident Theatre Association Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Training -Properties Design at the Annual URTA Award presentations at the Palmer House in Chicago, IL.
The URTA Awards recognize the outstanding work of individuals and institutions whose students show exceptional skill and professionalism in presentation and preparation at the URTA Auditions and Interviews.  

John received his B.A. from Lake Superior State University, also completed a degree in Comparative Economic and Political Systems at Georgetown University along with internship in the United States Congress in the office of Robert Dornan, 27th District of California. He also received his M.F.A. from Virginia Polytechnic College and State University. He joined Greensboro College in 1990 after Designing for the City of Greensboro’s Drama Unit programs, and several years at Actors Theatre of Louisville, Louisville, KY.

He has over 500 Scenic Design credits and several hundred Lighting Design credits. He has also done Star touring productions for artists such as Donny and Marie Osmond, Children’s productions for PBS and Stage One. Mr. Saari has 59 world premieres to his credit including two shows that toured nationally before opening at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

John has about 36 credits in video, film and tele-visual productions. In 2008 he did the sets for 8 shows for the TCT networks and the studios of WXLI TV. Also in television work he did the stage decoration for MTV’s “Wanna Be a VJ 3” search which featured JayZee in Spencer, N.C.  Professor Saari also has designed Industrial Shows and Tradeshow booths for the Textile Industry. His designs have won “Best of Show” in an international venue over 6 times.

John is known nationally for his Scene Painting materials knowledge and experience, experience in Costuming and Puppetry. He has taught master classes with the United States Institute of Theatre Technology, the Southeastern Theatre Conference, the New Jersey Studio School of Design, Pace University, Yale University, National Costumers of America, National Puppeteers of America, Disney Studios, and most recently for the IATSE and USA graduate presentations at Staten Island Stages in May 2019.

Joshua Fitzgerald photo

“I loved the GC Honors program and Greensboro College. I felt safe and a sense of genuine belonging at the college. I worked closely with my thesis advisor and professors who helped inspire me to define my path and passion of interest. That path has led me to my doctoral studies in Engineering Mechanics.”

- Joshua Fitzgerald, Class of ’19, Mathematics Major

Joshua currently studies astrodynamics at Virginia Tech University and is an Engineering Mechanics Ph.D. Candidate.