By Victoria Chatfield (Executive Director)
I'm about to tell you how to get hired by any theater in the world: Be Anneliese Ryan. Anneliese came onboard as our lighting designer but has consistently impressed me by taking ownership of everything that comes her way. During orientation, Justin Tolbert (our outstanding set designer) gave a presentation about what the set design might look like. Anneliese automatically took that information and started thinking about how to light a plexiglass ramp from both the inside and the outside. Within two days, she sent out an email containing:
1. Information about how thick the plexiglass needs to be in order to ensure safety
2. Pricing for sheets of plexiglass of various thicknesses
3. Methods for frosting the plexiglass
4. Ideas for lighting the plexiglass ramp from the inside -- including NeoFlex and LED Strip Lights
5. VIDEO FOOTAGE of the aforementioned lights in action
6. Tentative scheduling for materials ordering and construction
7. IDEAS FOR CUTTING COSTS (ALONG WITH SKETCHED OUT CONSTRUCTION PLANS)
Take a look at #7 again because having a company member who's concerned with cutting costs must be every producer's dream-come-true. You want to come up with ways to save us money? CAN I HIRE YOU FOR EVERYTHING ALWAYS? So if you want my top tip for getting/keeping a job, make sure that you're always thinking about ways in which you can help the company save money. Even though theater companies are primarily concerned with the art that we're creating, we can never ignore the fact that the bottom-line does exist. At the end of the day, we need to make sure that we're not going into debt on a show. That's how we're able to continue producing shows after all!
Anyway, Lio and Ben thought that perhaps the plexiglass ramp might not be the best visual representation of their ideas. They decided to start looking at Justin's earlier sketches. They'd both fallen in love almost immediately with the idea of having the space resemble a storage facility since both plays are all about holding on to memories of the past. Justin had created a design with tons of boxes of different shapes and sizes. (I'd reveal more but I'm hoping that he'll post about how he came up with the idea sometime soon.) After revisiting that design, they decided that they actually wanted to go in that direction.
So here's the lesson for today (other than "Be Anneliese Ryan"): Never be afraid to take two steps backward. Sometimes, you need to come up with a thousand other ideas before returning to your first one and definitively saying: "I like that one the best." There's nothing wrong with that. Come up with those thousand other ideas, try them out, and see which one feels right for you and your cast/crew. If you end up going back to your original design or blocking or script, that's fine -- because now you can work from there with a feeling of confidence that you made the right decision.