Shakespeare in the Park's Two Gentlemen of Verona began during daylight hours and ended after dark. How do you adjust the lighting accordingly so that you get a consistent presentation throughout the show, especially considering there are so many aspects you cannot control?
The 8pm start time was actually more problematic for the first show in the park this season — As You Like It — which I also lit. I think the final dress was on the June 21 solstice! There was still a lot of daylight at 8pm. So for that production, I started with almost all the gear in the theatre on and at full, just to make it evident to the audience that we were starting. It wasn't really dark until we got to Act II. But if there was a rain delay, and we ended up starting after darkness fell, the show's first half hour would seem way over lit, so the plan was to slide the grand master down accordingly, slowly restoring to full incrementally as we reached the point in the show where the cues were made in relative darkness. Obviously, it's not an ideal method, but believe me, working in the Park is not an exact science. For Two Gentlemen, we didn't really need that provision, as by August 16, our first preview, it was quite dark by 8:15 in the evening. So we just started.
What has been the proudest moment of your career?
I don't think I can really pinpoint one proudest moment, but I think I could say that I felt very proud — on top of the world, really — when I realized 20 years ago that I really would have a career as a lighting designer here in New York…that people would seek out my services, that people thought I was good at what I did. All I ever wanted was to work.
What is the best career advice you've ever been given?
I've been given a lot of great advice over the years from some wonderful teachers and colleagues. I was very fortunate to work as an assistant to many great designers, primary among them Tom Skelton and Craig Miller. Both very often advised me (particularly in my more arrogant moments) to not be so anxious to demonstrate to everyone in the room what I already knew how to do, but rather to be sobered by everything I didn't yet know how to do. It's a simple idea, but they're words to live by.
What is the worst career advice you've been given?
I trust my friends and colleagues in academic institutions will understand this, but the worst advice I got was that I should go to graduate school. It's not for everyone. It wasn't right for me.
What inspires you creatively?
Great writing, good storytelling, and the opportunity to render them through light on the stage to an audience.