This is the second part of "How We Got Here." To go to the first part, click here.


It started back in junior high in Springfield, MA, when I was asked to run a followspot for a performance in the auditorium. That was my first taste of theatrical lighting and I remember thinking, "This is kind of fun." In high school, I started to work on the school performances, and quickly realized that the director being my history professor had its advantages — I cannot count how many classes I missed because she sent me to the theatre to set up for the upcoming show .

As senior year approached, I decided that I wanted to go into television and enrolled in the communications program at Lyndon State College. It wasn't until the end of my fourth year that I realized I didn't want to work in television, I wanted to work in the field of lighting for live entertainment, and that what I was doing was more than a hobby. I went to the wrong college! I've had many jobs in the industry and I'm still learning. My dream is to become a lighting/show designer who collaborates with other incredible individuals to create a show that audience will always remember. Will I ever get there? Who knows, all I do know is that I can't stop trying. I may end up that local crew guy whose only job is to sweep the stage, but at least I'd still be in theatre . Eric LoaderMANAGING DIRECTOR OF SALES, MARTIN PROFESSIONAL

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay area and starting as a DJ in the business, I was infatuated as a teenager with the technology of professional lighting and sound gear. At the time, the most inspiring thing that got me to pursue lighting sales was definitely the Meteor Lighting mobile demo truck that used to tour around the county in the mid-late 80s and demo their effect lighting products. Seeing the cutting-edge lighting technology in a proper demo space made me realize the sales potential and impact effect special effect lighting had. From that point on, I was hooked! Somebody has to do that again so we can inspire more young future lighting enthusiasts; maybe Martin will!


I was fortunate enough to have been one of 10 US students selected as part of the American delegation to the Prague Quadrennial in December 1975-January 1976;I was studying at Carnegie Mellon University for my MFA in lighting design at the time. In addition to the students there was an American delegation of professional designers, including Jo Mielziner, Ming Cho Lee, Ed Kook, Joel Rubin, Gil Hemsley, Stan Miller, and Patricia Zipprodt .

I remember standing on a light bridge in the Smetana Theatre in Prague. That was the working playground for Josef Svoboda's creations. Suddenly, banks of lights were bumping on to full. It was the infamous low voltage light curtain that I had heard about for many years and viewed photos of. I counted 200 fixtures. It was a sheet of light. Powerful, pure, majestic and magnificent. Wow! After two weeks of intense conversation about theatre and design, Joel Rubin asked the students to join him for a post-mortem in the hotel lobby. He asked, "What did you get from this experience?" While I was in thought, at that very moment my understanding of lighting all came together. I remember saying, "I have studied and studied and worked very hard to get to this point and now I understand what lighting is. Lighting is about learning how to see." Once I understood what my eyes, heart, and brain saw, I had the key . Catherine OwensARTIST/DIRECTOR OF SCREEN VISUALS FOR U2

It was all Willie Williams' fault, that genius of a show director, lighting designer, wise-cracking, cocktail-drinking buddy of mine [pictured at right with Owens]. There I was happily minding my own business over 10 years ago now, creating art in my studio in New York, where I work making painting, sculptures, and experimental video, when I get the call to come to Birmingham (UK) for a couple of weeks to paint a set of Trabants (East German cars), that Willie was planning to hang as lighting fixtures in the set for U2's ZOOTV world tour .

As I was painting the Trabbies, Willie and the band were looking for new video material to include on the video screens of the ZOOTV set, which was to be a major production. I happened to know some suitably mad and wonderfully talented video makers in New York who I thought might do nicely. The band agreed to work with a few of these artists I was suggesting, as well as a few other video makers they were already working with prior to my coming onboard. Before we knew it, EBN's (Emergency Broadcast Network) manipulated video of George Bush Sr. mouthing the words "We will..we will..rock you" from the Oval Office was hitting the screen as the opening piece for the tour around the globe . It is hard to put into words my relationship with Willie and the band; trust would probably be a good word to start with, and respect would be another. I am so grateful to Willie for his never-ending input and support for this funny little journey that we all go on with each other from tour to tour. I think the general rule of thumb when working with either Willie or U2 is, whenever you think its as good as it can be, go left. There's always more when you go left . Martin PakledinazCOSTUME DESIGNER

I was determined to get in, and/or around theatre; but it was because so many good people back in undergrad and grad school (Wayne State University and University of Michigan) were watching after me that I was guided toward costume design. Some people who watched my back: Sally Ann Parsons and Ray Diffen teaching me; Donna Thomas, who worked with Theoni V. Aldredge, and guided me into Theoni's range of vision; and Theoni herself, and Barbara Matera, under whose tutelage I learned so much. Robin Wagner, Tom Lynch, and Adrienne Lobel all convinced people to hire me. This could go on and on, and as far as I am concerned, still does — friends and collaborators watching my back .


How do we get here? Good people. My mother took me to London theatre from age 13. We saw Joe Davis' lighting of the Christopher Fry play The Lady's Not for Burning. I'm not sure I've ever seen anything better lit since — it certainly turned me on. A man named Anthony Thomas who ran a boys club near my school and allowed me to escape that rather horrible world into the fantasy of theatre. Bob Stanton and Bill Stiles, who gave me my first employment straight in the West End from drama school. Michael Elliott and Richard Negri, genius director and designer, from whom my early successes came, both now sadly deceased. And most importantly, Tony Walton. He brought me to America in the first place, introduced me to Hal Prince (another great mentor), and still secures my employment even today. What patience!

So a lot of it is all about whom you get to know. In the UK, my lighting production desk had a cocktail cabinet, which often helped diffuse the more raging of directors. On the perhaps more puritanical Broadway assignment, I liked to keep a plate full of M&Ms on display. After all, theatre is about life, and lighting is not brain surgery, it is just part of the human whole . Charlie RichmondRICHMOND SOUND DESIGN

One of my first credits — and one of the earliest uses I am aware of the term sound design — was for a production of The Miracle Worker at the Community Theatre of the Monterey Peninsula in Carmel, CA, in January 1965. I know that's what we called it because I still have the (Samuel French, $1.25) script here with "sound design" written on the cover. This was only amateur theatre though, and I was 15 years old. But I'd have to say that was pretty much a seminal experience for me .


I finished high school having been active in all theatrical and musical events available. And I had spent every year since the age of three (unbelievable, but true) in art school. Which to pursue, art or theatre? Only Pennsylvania State University would agree to my taking a full program in art and a full one in theatre, which meant I carried about 23 credits a term. (What was I thinking?) While there, a wonderful design teacher, a Yale grad named Bill Allison, pointed out to me that there was a field that combined both art and theatre, that this field was called design for the theatre (which was news to me…duh). He taught me how to draft, introduced me to the basics of designing space, and mentioned grad school at Yale .

While at PSU, I was researching something designish in the very fine Rare Books Library. We were, of course, not allowed to take pencils, etc. into the room, so I "parked" in the room next door, and looked at a folio of hand-tinted plates by Bakst. They quite exploded my mind. Not only were the figures wonderfully articulate, the composition of them on the page strong and exciting, the use of color and pattern sensational, and the sense of fabric and how it moves fluid and real, but the figures themselves leaped off the page to me. For the first time ever, I heard the music they moved to literally coming from the page. Is that a "costumic" epiphany? Bruce RodgersSET DESIGNER

I got here from West Texas, where the weather provided all types of dramatic influence in my childhood. That, and growing up in a mixed-religion family (Southern Baptist and Catholic), provided me with an odd awareness of emotional control/guidance due to lighting, effects, music, and message. I suppose this has helped me in the music design field .

Also, my dad was a truck driver, and seeing him work in the Texas oil refineries gave me an inspiring look at lighting in an industrial setting. Years later, watching Fisher/Park's design for the Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels tour jolted me into a homesick epiphany . Jean-Paul "JP" RosenveldtTECHNICAL DIRECTOR, DISNEYLAND ENTERTAINMENT PRODUCTIONS

High school theatre turned out to be the right fit for me after an injury put me out of sports. I owe everything to my two high school teacher/mentors, Nelson Palmer, who was the Chaffey High School drama teacher, and Richard W. Nelson, who was the technical director for the Gardiner W. Spring Auditorium. I started out wanting to act, but was told by Mr. Palmer, after a semester of performing that "acting shouldn't be part of your career path." Heartbroken when I asked him if he wanted me to drop the class, his response was, "God no, you're the only one in the class who gets the technical stuff." Mr. Palmer then introduced me to Rich Nelson, who put me through a yearlong apprenticeship. He helped me get my IA card and got me started taking calls in the "real world."

In 1986 I started working as a stagehand at Disneyland, and with a few exceptions have been here ever since. Ted Carlsson started me in the field of technical design and direction at Disneyland, where I worked as his ATD and eventually worked my way up to a full-time TD position. I get to tour occasionally, build new shows and attractions, and still take the occasional rock-and-roll call. Pretty good for a washed-up high school soccer player . Ann SachsPRESIDENT. SACHS MORGAN STUDIO

I was a 12-year-old theatre lover growing up in a small New Hampshire town when my parents took my 80-year-old grandmother and me to see Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight. We were all, of course, mesmerized by Mr. Holbrook's luminous performance. On the long drive home the three generations blended into one as we giggled and re-enacted bits and pieces from the show. My grandma grew increasingly ponderous, and eventually remarked to my parents, "I didn't know Mark Twain was still alive!" At which point I made the decision to spend my life in the theatre; not because the theatre is larger than life, as I had thought up to now, but rather because it is as large as life. Forty-some years later and still in this wondrous profession, I discover new truths every day .


At age 13, while throwing papers from my bicycle on my news route, I heard a band practicing Stones songs in a nearby house. Peeking through the shrubbery, I noticed all the guys were my age, and they didn't have a bass player! Recognizing the drummer from my seventh-grade math class at junior high, I approached him the next day, an audition was arranged, and so I joined the Young Sounds as bass guitarist. Since my mom had a station wagon, it became my task to carry and set up the Shure Vocalmaster PA system. From then on, I knew music and sound would be a lifelong career .

By 1973, as a touring musician, I had become more interested in mixing bands than playing in them. I was strongly influenced by noted console designer Jim Gamble, who was head engineer for our group's rental PA company (Tychobrahe) at the time. Three decades later, I'm still working to help figure out how to get good solid bass out of the PA! Sarah SidmanLIGHTING DESIGNER

To tell the truth, I'm still not quite sure how I ended up here. Every so often, when it comes up in conversation, either with producers or first dates, I string together yet another semi-comprehensible description of my high school years onstage and off, of the teenage thrills of working backstage, and of making money while doing so, of my long-term love for black-and-white photography and a stormy sky and my equal passion for color and texture on the stage. Usually, at some point in the conversation, I finally manage to change the subject, or at least, order another glass of wine .

I guess, simply put, I am here because my day is never the same. My routine. My perspective. My approach. My sense of reality. A phrase I once read that I often remember is as follows: "Every day I wake up with the twin desires of enjoying the world and of changing the world. This makes planning my day very difficult." I must admit, on a superficial and yet base level, I thrive on the fact that through design I am able to fulfill, develop, and perpetuate both these desires . Joe TawilPRESIDENT GAMPRODUCTS

Like so many others, my start was in high school. Working backstage, becoming intrigued with the magic of scenery and light. I have no pictures of the backstage facilities at my Brooklyn, NY, high school; built in the 1930s, it had provisions for gas lighting just in case the electricity failed, but unfortunately not on the stage, so I couldn't dabble with gaslight. The electronic dimmer board was interesting, enough though very primitive by today's standards .

After a stint in the Army, I had a job offer in California, but my friend Jules Fisher was horrified at the thought of my leaving Manhattan for the desert of California. He arranged some interviews, which got me to stay in New York working for Kliegl Bros., then Century Lighting, and finally Colortran. An offer of presidency of Colortran finally got me to California in 1969 . I came to California for what I thought would be a short stay — a couple of years, then a return to the Big Apple. LA has grown a great deal in these many years and I've come to love it as much as I do my hometown. It immersed me in the Hollywood film industry. The television industry, so dominated in the early days by New York, has shifted to California; it is also home to Disneyland, the center of the theme park world. What more could a lighting designer turned entrepreneur want? In 1975 I started the Great American Market; right now we are building our new facilities. And I am still in LA. Steve TerryVP PROFESSIONAL SERVICES, ETC

Having done a season of summer stock after high school, I was thrilled to sign up for a stagecraft course and three easy credits my first semester of college. One day, the instructor, Peter Forward, announced that the Dance Theatre of Harlem was doing a performance at Hunter College, and did I want to be on the crew for the load-in? The year was 1971 .

This was some load-in crew! Rick Curnen, the current longtime head of the ABC-TV New York electric shop, was hanging lights right next to me. Gary Fails, the founder of City Theatrical, was the stage manager for DTH. Eight hours later came the offer: "Want to go on tour with us for $75 a week and $5 per day expenses? Oh, and we'll pay for the hotel room." A week later, I was driving a truck to California to start the tour . Fast-forward to 1976, and I'm back working with my college instructor, who has this little company on E. 10th Street called Production Arts Lighting. I'd been helping them part-time with the transition to new electronic dimming systems, while I was working for DTH. Would I like to come and work at PA full time? Off I went to the lighting rental business to work with Forward and John McGraw, and to a company that we eventually grew to more than $23 million in annual revenues and over 100 people . Along the way, I had a minor diversion to Broadway. Shortly after I started at PA, I heard that there was a hot new show on Broadway called A Chorus Line. Better yet, it had the first memory control system ever used on a Broadway show (the Electronics Diversified LS-8), and the production electrician was a friend of mine, Gary Shevett. One day I went up to the Shubert Theatre to see what all the fuss was about. I remember watching Tharon Musser, Richard Winkler, and the electricians run that incredibly complex (for 1976!) show on a two-scene preset backup system, while I stood outside the booth and watched the most exciting piece of theatre I'd ever seen. I was totally hooked . Steve WarrenSALES DIRECTOR, AVOLITES

In 1982, two family friends called me to say they had started a company, Cause & Effects in Birmingham, and had designed a PAR-64 in an automated pan-and-tilt yoke. I wondered what this "PAR-64" actually was (or a moving yoke for that matter), but as it sounded much more interesting then designing electrical layouts for government buildings, I immediately gave up my secure but boring job and agreed to go and work for them. This three-man moving light company lasted for almost two years but when it closed, Avo headhunted the innovative head designer, who then recommended me to Avolites. Still here 18 years later, having worked as wireman, test engineer, service engineer, salesperson, and now shareholder/sales director. Now more then ever, I love the industry and all its characters!


I really fell in love with theatre at Manchester Memorial High School, when my music teacher Mr. Mirabile needed some extra help with the NH Philharmonic concert that was coming to our school. I guess that Mr. M, as we called him, saw something special in me, and introduced me to the IATSE lighting guys who were taking care of the school theatre for outside events. I fell in love with these guys and they showed me the ropes. After about a year, the city got rid of the IA in the schools, so now things at my school were in my hands. Teachers learned to trust me and my abilities, and the school depended on me to run and design everything that used the auditorium .

I did a lot for Mr. M in his last few years. He was the kindest man you will ever meet, but it was his ability to see what people were really good at, and steer them in the right direction that made him special. For steering me in the right direction, away from performing and into lighting design and tech, I dedicated my theatre degree to him . Willie WilliamsLIGHTING DESIGNER

My brother used to book the bands at the student union bar at Nottingham University, so on weekends I would take the half-hour bus ride there from Sheffield, where in exchange for carrying flight cases up and down stairs all day, I'd get into the gigs for free. It was 1976, punk rock was just hitting its stride, and it was all about the most exciting thing an urban 16-year old could imagine. My favorite band was a Liverpool outfit called Deaf School, whom I befriended, thereby extending the admission-via-box-pushing arrangement to other cities. One night after a gig in Burton-on-Trent, their road manager thanked me, gave me 10 quid, and asked if I could make it to Hull the following day. Hardly a lucrative long-term contract, but I was thrilled to death and felt like a pro, which really took the edge off sleeping in the bus station .


Although I was already heavily involved with small recording projects and even had a small four-track studio of my own, it was one particular session that really got me to decide that I wanted to be an engineer. I had graduated from the University of Arizona with a music performance degree, and along the way, had spent many hours in the 24-track studio at the school of music. A good friend of mine from Albuquerque, where I grew up, asked me to produce a three-song demo for him of his own compositions. I pulled together some of the people I had worked with in the past to play on the session. We rehearsed, then laid tracks over a two-day period, followed by a day of mixing. During the process, I absolutely felt that "this is what I want to do." Although my friend did not get a deal from the tape, I was sold on getting serious and going to school for sound engineering. I enrolled at USC in the fall of 1990 and dived in with both feet. [Winkler, right, with Sennheiser's Jim Keene.]


I came into the theatre through the back door as part of the cattle (actors). That was during the eighth grade, and I didn't get the lead because I couldn't sing a lick. I soon found I didn't have to sing (or try out) to work behind the scenes. I was drawn by the magic and artistry of the scenery, the makeup, the lights, and the special effects. I did the high school, college, and community theatre thing both onstage and behind. I got involved big-time in church productions, where I've always pushed the envelope. All along I made my living outside the theatre; how I dreamed of making a living doing the things I loved. Lo and behold, this really cool job at a church opens up for me where I get to do all things I love — stage lighting, set design, makeup, pyro, special effects, video production and presentation, web design, graphic arts, and presentation design — and get paid for it!

To view Part VI of our Special Report, "Getting Personal," click here.