Donald Holder has been appointed head of lighting design at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) School of Theatre. Holder’s work on Lion King, exemplifies the level of expertise he brings to the Institute. With light, he created a magical African sky that became the central visual metaphor for the production. This luminous skyscape fluidly changed color and tone to reflect the time of day and emotional temperature of the action.
"The best teachers have open minds that embrace artistic differences formed by careers that are not afraid of artistic challenges — that's Don," said Chris Barreca, head of design at CalArts School of Theatre. "Most designers are known for their work in one area of design. Don's interests range from the experimental to popular culture, from the Theatre and Broadway musicals to the circus, puppetry, opera and dance. It is this love for all the disciplines that Don shares with me, CalArts and the students who are attracted to our artistic petri dish."
In his new position, Holder will be teaching and mentoring all graduate level lighting designers. "The more I work in the profession, the more I realize the importance of the tutelage of a master teacher," he said. "I'm interested in passing on what I've learned as a professional. It's a way of giving back, and a way of nurturing students who are trying to find their own voices and become members of the community of artists."
Holder's recent projects include the Los Angeles Opera's world premiere of Grendel in May 2006, and its production at the Lincoln Center Festival in July. He designed the lighting for the Center Theatre Group's June 2006 production of Without Walls at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles and created the lighting for Twyla Tharp's new musical, The Times They Are A-Changin', which will have its New York premiere at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre this coming October. He also designed the lighting for the show's earlier run at San Diego's Old Globe Theatre.
No stranger to Broadway, Holder's credits there include The Boy from Oz, Gem of the Ocean, The Green Bird, Juan Darien, King Hedley II, La Cage aux Folles, Little Shop of Horrors, Movin' Out, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. His designs for opera include The Magic Flute for the Metropolitan Opera, Salome for the Kirov Opera and The End of the Affair for the Houston Grand Opera.