- What challenges did you face in keeping the 46-member cast of The Audience illuminated?
The biggest challenge became how to create tight visual focus on the 19 interwoven storylines (by 19 playwrights) and do it seamlessly, like in a fast-paced, well-edited film. An additional challenge was how to light the 11 musical numbers in which groups or soloists perform internal or fantasy monologues. Here, the focus often needs to be narrower, but we need to emotionally move outside the confines of 45 theatre seats.
To achieve this, by my first count, would have required over 150 specials — well beyond our space and budget limitations in the 100-seat Connelly Theatre. The design primarily became about hours of intense and precise programming to choreograph four VL1000TS units to invisibly move the visual focus of the show continuously within the context of each section of the show.
What idea did you have that looked good on paper but not in reality?
I learned early on that intellectual ideas without strong visual components don't translate well onto the stage. Anything on paper based on strong composition or color ideas has a better chance. There are things that don't work as envisioned on any production. It is all part of the process. Hopefully, they quickly become things that do work — sometimes in exciting ways not previously imagined.
What has been your proudest moment in your career?
It was the moment I found balance in my life between the three things I love the most: my family, designing artistically challenging projects, and teaching/investigating light with my students at The University of Virginia.
What inspires you in your creative goals?
The opportunity for creative discovery. It is best when it happens in the theatre in the moment of performance when all of the elements become one emotional experience. It is those moments when I always learn something new about what light can do.
What piece of equipment can you absolutely not do without?
My laptop. I do design research, sketching, rendering, drafting, paperwork — everything on this machine. On The Audience, we programmed the entire show with it. I even did daily cue adjustments for the stage manager and sent them via email.