Mark Kobak is a professional set designer, college professor, and theatrical manager. Since 1991, he has worked in music, theater, opera, and dance venues throughout the United States.
He received his M.F.A. in set design at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where he studied with distinguished designer John Ezell and was chosen to participate in a selective portfolio review (Ming Cho Lee's Clambake) at Lincoln Center in New York. He then moved to New York, where he designed sets at a variety of New York venues and assisted noted designers on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and in television.
Since then, Mark has designed sets for theatres around the country, most notably for the Miniature Theater of Chester in the Berkshires, where he collaborated with director and actor Vincent Dowling on an adaptation of The Tempest; for Proof at American Stage; for the world premiere of Cross Roads Dancing at Dobama Theatre; and for the Emerald City Opera production of Madama Butterfly.
Mark served as designer-in-residence at Lyric Opera Cleveland for three seasons and at Cleveland Opera for two seasons, overseeing design adaptations for such large-scale productions as Madame Butterfly and The Barber of Seville.
Mark has also taught and designed extensively at academic institutions. Most recently, he served as the James N. Wise Visiting Professor of Theatre at the College of Wooster in central Ohio, where he taught Scenic Art, Set Design, and Visual Text and designed two main stage productions. He spent the previous academic year at Snow College in Utah, where he taught and designed four main stage productions. At both colleges, he painted the sets as well as supervised properties.
Mark has served as a designer for Huron Playhouse (Bowling Green State University), Bay View Music Festival, Cleveland School of the Arts, Case Western Reserve University, St. Joseph Academy, Baldwin-Wallace College, Southwestern College, University of Akron, Hathaway Brown School, Lake Erie College, Lakeland Community College, and John Carol University. At all of these institutions, he took advantage of opportunities to mentor students in design and theatrical production.
As resident scenic designer with Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM) for four-and-a-half years, Mark designed productions of Dialogues of the Carmelites, Cosi Fan Tutte, and Amahl and the Night Visitors. Once again, he mentored students during work-study sessions. He was also asked to take on a more managerial position with the CIM opera department. In addition to securing a scene shop to build the opera productions and finding suitable production staff, he was given the title as well as all the responsibilities of Production Manager.
During this period, Mark was recommended for the position of Director of Theatre Arts at the Bay View Music Festival (part of the Chautauqua Network) in Petoskey, Michigan. From December 2003 to October 2006, he was responsible for hiring and supervising the artistic and production staff and selecting and budgeting the season. He created and coordinated marketing, communications, educational outreach, and scheduling of productions and classes in multiple venues during each season. He also designed sets for all productions.
Because of Mark's successful work at Bay View, he was recently hired as theatrical consultant to the Ariel-Ann Carson Dater Performing Arts Centre, where he was charged with bringing structure to the organization, finding ways to use the center, as it currently stands, to its full potential, while allowing room to grow. Among many changes which he implemented or advised were broadening the scope of the 1.25 million dollar endowment campaign, changing the focus of continuing renovations to ensure a sound physical plant, and guiding the board's activities toward promoting the theatre. In addition to hiring an assistant with experience in professional theatre for the Executive Director, he instituted many professional practices in the facility's day-to-day operations. He created connections with other community cultural organizations and brought in a guest speaker to illustrate how linking arts organizations to the greater community could promote economic development.
Throughout his career, Mark has exhibited considerable responsibility, range, and inventiveness. His concern for communication, collaboration, and organization continue to inform his professional life, whether producing performances, designing sets, mentoring students and young professionals, teaching in the classroom, or advising organizations.