San Francisco native Paul Vallerga is the man behind the exquisite set designs for all middle and upper school performing arts productions. He also teaches a grade 7-8 Production and Design class. Vallerga likes the classics: He listens to baseball on the radio, watches old movies and named his “occasionally evil” cat Iago. He likes guiding his students into the word of technical theater with a sense of calm and attention, encouraging people around him to stay relaxed. Here’s a little more that Harker Magazine learned from this creative teacher, who is grateful to have made a career in the arts.
What is the one thing in the world you would fix if you could wave a magic wand?
We seem to be in a time where anger, bullying and a general incivility are not only acceptable but admired. I would fix that.
What makes you feel like a kid again?
Cheesy monster movies. Occasionally a new one pops up that, even with millions of CGI dollars, still gets the right vibe. The latest “Godzilla” got this right – he still looks like a guy in a rubber suit.
What is the biggest risk you have ever taken in your life?
I had just graduated with a B.A. in theater. I landed a temp job at Fairchild Semiconductor, and I designed one show at the California Theatre Center. I was offered permanent work at both places the same week. After some soul searching, I took the theater job, though it was lower paying. I was there for 20 years, and it led me directly to Harker.
What is your most treasured object and why?
I have a picture of my father right at the end of his life, with me in the background, and we both are (without knowing it) making the same hand gestures. I really love that picture.
What is something that you pretend to understand when you really don’t?
Baseball free agency.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?
Don’t sweat the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff.