There are only four young designers on this months' cover, and they're all based in New York. There are two things wrong with that statement. First, in three previous years we've shone the spotlight on five young designers to watch because we have always included a projection designer in the mix. This year, there weren't any. Such an omission disturbed me at first, but I've come to realize that there are two essential reasons for this: projection design is still a fledgling art form, and there simply isn't the pool of potential candidates that the other disciplines enjoy; plus, it's an expensive art, and many of the smaller shows simply aren't able to include it in their productions. (A side effect is that there is a small handful of projection designers getting a lot of work these days, which I suppose is a good thing; at least it shows that this discipline is thriving as a whole). And this is not to say that there hasn't been really good work done by young projection designers; we just weren't able to find any recent graduates doing consistently good work over the last year. I feel that as directors and producers become more comfortable with the technology and its possibilities, and as schools make more of a concerted effort to include projection in their curriculum, you'll see a corresponding jump in projection design, and by extension, projection designers.
The other problematic part of my opening statement is that this year's designers are all New York-based. We got some letters last year inquiring why most of the young designers we've picked previous years have called New York their home. I said back in December that we'd try to expand the pool this year.
Well, it didn't happen, and that's my fault. I was planning to poll a handful of instructors at schools around the country asking them to give me a short list of recent graduates they felt were doing good work. I sent out a few emails in May, only to realize everyone was just getting out of school. Oops. Another great idea, shot to hell. I hope to rectify that situation in our next education issue in March, spotlighting the best young regional talent around the country.
But that is in no way meant to minimize the achievements of Sarah Beers, David Korins, Jason Lyons, and Betsy Rhodes, the four young individuals we're celebrating on this month's cover. As the headline says, Remember Their Names. I explained this last year, New York might be the home to the majority of both established and up-and-coming designers, but only about half of their work is done in the city; the rest is done regionally and internationally. But because this is arguably the theatrical capital of the country, this is where many designers end up, no matter where they're from. True to form, most of this year's crop came from elsewhere; more surprisingly, none of them went to grad school. That, in some ways, may be more significant than their current address.
While I'm admitting mea culpas, here's a few more: in last month's article on the Dixie Chicks, we incorrectly stated that VLPS 2000 automated spot luminaires and VLPS 2000 automated wash luminaires were being used. As Vari-Lite's Jeff Morrison pointed out to me, the fixtures are of course VARI*LITE Series 2000 Spot and VARI*LITE Series 2000 Wash luminaires. In the August article on Blue Man Group, we stated that Morpheus M Fader™ color changers were used; it was actualy the first major tour to use their new 8 Fader™ CYM color changers. And in the July article on the Minnie Evans Arts Center, we incorrectly referred to Acoustic Dimensions as being based in Connecticut, when they are actually based in New Rochelle, NY.
And that whole East Coast blackout thing back in August? That was my fault, too.