Resident Lighting Designer: The Dallas Opera
Q: A Lighting Designer is a very niche position. How did you know you wanted pursue that career? Starting in high school I would help with set construction and lighting for the musicals, but I had no idea you could make a living at it. Right out of high school I went to LA for Interior Design School and after a year decided that it was not for me. After spending the summer and part of the winter working at a resort outside of Yellowstone, I went to the University of Wyoming to try to decide where to go next. While I was considering what degree to pursue, I got a job in the theatre department and just stayed. It was there that I realized that you could make a career out of theatre. When I decided that Grad school was the next step, I had to choose a field and lighting felt like the natural choice.
Q:? How did you begin your process for designing this show? I begin by reading and listening to the synopsis, libretto, and music. After that, I enter discussions with the director and designers to see how we want to tell the story. Are we playing it traditional or are we putting a twist to it? If we are stepping away from traditional, how far will we go? What season is it? What time of day? What mood are we trying to set? That all ends up influencing the design approach: the colors, the equipment, the angle and so on. After we agree on the design approach, I look for paintings or images that reflect the emotional journey of the story. This gives me a starting point for each scene from which I can develop the full arc.
Q: Lighting is more than just the audience’s ability to see the actors on stage. Can you elaborate on what lighting a show really means?
Lighting helps tells the story through mood, ambience, color, and focus. For example, even if you’re in a very bright scene, I can make one area a little brighter and that is where the audience will focus their attention. The quality of the light in a scene has a major effect on how the action and emotion is perceived. Lighting can really help propel the story forward.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere. Walking down the sidewalk, seeing shadows of the trees. The light reflecting off of buildings, paintings in museums, concerts. What the sky is like in different parts of the country or the world: Dallas vs Wyoming or Santa Fe, for example. The world is a festival of lighting design choices.
Q: What would you say to the next generation wanting to work in this industry? What do they need to bring?
They need to be a gap-filler. By that I mean they need to take every chance they can get no matter how small, i.e. don’t be afraid to be an assistant. The knowledge you can get from a position like that is invaluable. Everything moves so fast, the better you can educate yourself, the better you’ll be at your craft.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in the 2019-2020 season at TDO?
I am most looking forward to designing Pulcinella. I’m excited to design a dance piece; this is an exciting opportunity to tell a story through primarily movement. And dancers are fun to light!!