Theatre and Dance lecturer releases publication focusing on AutoCAD for theatrical use

book coverJohn Keisling, a lecturer and technical director in the theatre area of the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance, released his new publication AutoCAD for Theatrical Drafting: A Resource for Designers and Technical Directors on April 29, 2021. The 180-page book serves as an introduction to the software AutoCAD, focusing on how to navigate the commands most commonly used when creating design, construction and installation drafting plates for theatrical use.

After earning his M.F.A. in theatrical production at Florida State University, Keisling worked as a mechanical designer for a scenic production company that specialized in designing, engineering and producing scenery for rock ‘n’ roll concerts and touring events. As a mechanical designer, he worked with a team of other mechanical designers who would convert design concept drawings into fabrication and assembly drawings using AutoCAD as the primary source of drafting. This job involved working with AutoCAD software for anywhere between 40 and 60 hours per week.

“When I left the scenic production company to go into teaching at the University of Southern Mississippi, I was assigned to teach a class in AutoCAD for theatrical design,” said Keisling. “As I taught the class, I quickly realized that the students needed a resource to complete their work for the class and for their designs.”

Keisling explained that the students could follow along in class, but retaining the details learned in class became difficult once working on the material at home.

“As I looked for a textbook that would allow for this, I found that the AutoCAD texts that were available covered every facet of the program and were hundreds, if not thousands, of pages long,” he said. “In theatrical drafting, while AutoCAD is a valuable tool, we really only scratch the surface of its capabilities to meet our needs. It became apparent that a condensed version of a text was needed that covered only the capabilities of the software that we use most commonly in theatrical drafting.”

After speaking with colleagues in the field who taught similar courses, Keisling was contacted by Routledge Press, who was interested in working on this project. Keisling began writing the text in the spring of 2017, during a second year as a visiting professor at the University of Southern Mississippi. In summer 2019, after having settled into a new position at Wayne State University, Keisling began working on the publication again, completing the first draft of the text at the end of the summer 2020. The final manuscript was submitted in February 2021 and sent to the printer in March.

“While the text is titled AutoCAD for Theatrical Drafting, it is intended to be neither an all-inclusive AutoCAD text nor a theatrical drafting text, but rather to discuss how to use the capabilities of the AutoCAD software to complete theatrical drafting packets that meet commonly accepted theatrical drafting standards,” said Keisling.

Keisling’s book is a fairly condensed 20-chapter text that could theoretically be taught in a single semester. Additionally, the publication will be included in course material at various universities including the University of Kentucky, Florida State University, University of South Florida, Northwestern State University of Louisiana, University of Southern Mississippi and, of course, Wayne State University.

To learn more about the publication, please visit