Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Interview with Lighting Designer, Shea Glenn

Name:  Shea Glenn
Major: Musical Theatre
Year in School: Senior

What are your responsibilities in this production?

I have to design the lights…..obviously [laughs].  Really that’s pretty much all I do.  I think of the lighting ideas and Nolan Martin, the Light Crew Head, and I sit down and talk about it.  We have to figure out the best way to make it work.  As lighting designer, I’m also responsible for the paper work.

What does your paper work entail?

The light plot [which is essentially the blueprints for the lighting design].  I make it using a computer program we have here at Birmingham-Southern.  Once done, you have to make sure that you have a circuit for each light and that each circuit is plugged into a dimmer so that they will actually work.  To keep things straight, we have to have a list of all the dimmers and which circuit goes in each; this is called a dimmer patch.  Then I have to make all the light cues for the show.  To do this, I sit in rehearsal and note when a light comes up and where.  This takes a lot of time.

What is your typical day like?

When Nolan goes to rehearsal in the afternoons, I act as Light Crew Head.  So essentially, I tell people what to do.  But, seriously, my light crew is awesome and they’re very quick learners so I can pretty much tell them what to do and it gets done. 

What is the best part about being the Light Designer?

The best part about being the light designer is that you see your design in your head, and then you see them on stage, coming to life.  That’s the coolest thing. 

What is the most challenging aspect?

When things don’t work and you don’t know why.
 [As we speak, Shea Glenn is beckoned by Technical Director, Matt Mielke, to turn on the lights in Theatre One and then returns to continue the interview.]
Another challenging aspect is having to share the space.  During the semester, the set crew works during the day and the light crew comes in at night.  However, during the Explorations term, both crews are trying to get things done at the same time.  Can’t turn off their lights because they need them!

What makes Birmingham-Southern’s theatre department unique?

The creative license that is given to the student designers is a cool part.  I’ve been mentored, but no one is standing over me telling be to do this or do that.  Also, this month-long process is good at teaching you what is like to work an 8 hour day in the professional theatre world.  I came here as a performance major and chose to do my senior project on light design.  Before I came here, I had never touched a light.  I’m a transfer student and at other schools, it is either you do tech or perform.  Since coming to Birmingham-Southern three years ago, I have worked in every tech position, as well as performed.  This is an aspect that is very unique to this theatre department. 

What are a few things you have learned here that will help you in the future?

I’ve learned how to work with different people and all personality types.  I know what is like to be the low person on the totem pole, as well as the leader of the pack.  Most importantly, I know so much more about theatre and the professional conduct it expects.  

Shea Glenn with her favorite light, an Inky.

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