Welcome to 2016 and to a special two-part interview. This week we sit down with four-time Tony Award winning lighting designer Kevin Adams! In this first part, Kevin discusses his unique route to becoming a lighting designer, which included working as a scenic designer on the West Coast, working on music videos and commercials, and even being a go-go dancer! He shares with us his thoughts on lighting education, why he loves gardening, whether we’re embracing LED technology too quickly, and what he thinks is one of his biggest weaknesses as a designer. He has great stories from the design processes of ‘American Idiot’, both the original and recent versions of ‘Hedwig’, and ‘Hands on a Hardbody.’ Come back next week to hear stories from ‘Next to Normal’, how he has freed himself from the tech table, and what happened when he met Peter Sellers!
We’re kicking off our next 50 episodes with the first in a (hopefully!) series of discipline specific panels…this week it’s Lighting Design with Scott Bolman, Burke Brown, and Ben Stanton. The three studio mates sat down with Cory in Brooklyn to talk about the highs and lows of being a working lighting designer in 2015. They cover a wide range of topics including making a living and keeping costs down while making small fees, how they find and utilize assistants, how they choose what projects to say yes to, and whether it’s a designer’s job to find a way “in” to every piece. Cory and the guys also chat about when it’s ok for the LD to also program, how much the inventory really matters, what parts of their job they wish they were better at, and how they incorporate new technology into their designs, such as Ben’s decision to include over 150 LED lekos in his Tony nominated design for ‘Fun Home.’ (hint..it worked!) The more the merrier this week, so pull up a chair and eavesdrop on our discussion.
It’s Episode #50!!! To mark this milestone, host Cory Pattak gets in the hot seat as this week’s guest. Former guest and girl-you-wish-was-your-best-friend Jen Schriever cracks open a bottle of bubbly and takes on the reigns of exposing the man behind the mic. Jen and Cory leap frog across a multitude of topics including the creation of the podcast, rejected title ideas, the reaction after nearly 40k downloads, and Cory’s hope for the future of the show. Cory chats about growing up an only child theatre kid which involved building elaborate scale model theatres, being a “moving light designer” in high school, a foray into film acting, and all manner of bizarre activities kids do to amuse themselves. They also chat about their current design processes, the moments that excite them the most and the ones that terrify them, and why cooking and design are two sides of the same coin. Enjoy this special episode and thanks to everyone who’s been listening. Here’s to 50 more!
If you’ve seen even a handful of Off-Broadway shows in the past 15 years…chances are you’ve seen the great work of this week’s guest, lighting designer Tyler Micoleau. Tyler has a ton of insight into the non-profit world having worked at essentially every major Off-Bway company and many of the regional theatres around the country. Cory and Tyler chat about his work in shows like ‘The Invisible Hand’ and ‘The Wayside Motor Inn’ and how he has become a master at lighting box sets with limited lighting positions. He also gives us a window into his process for ‘Be More Chill’ at Two River Theatre, how he uses limited resources to his advantage, and the kinds of conversations he has with directors and scenic designers. And finally the topic you’ve been waiting for…we do a deep dive into the world and usage of LED tape!
This week’s guest is one of the busiest designers on Broadway, it’s Lighting Designer Howell Binkley! Cory and Howell touch on many of his recent and past work including his award winning design for ‘Hamilton’, revisiting ‘How to Succeed…’ again 15 years later, and how his dance background informs his designs. He also discusses whether there is such a thing as a “Broadway lighting design”, how he interacts with his longtime Associates and Programmers, what his process is for laying out a new plot, and the emotional toll of creating art that can so easily be washed away in an instant, as was the case with his recent work on ‘Dr. Zhivago’. And learn how a different path nearly led Howell to become…wait for it…a mime!
The podcast is going international this week with British Lighting Designer and current duel-Tony nominee, Paule Constable! Paule chats (while Cory geeks out) about her designs for “War Horse”, “Curious Incident” and “Cripple of Inishman.” She discusses the difference between US and UK lighting approaches, her love of large, single source gestures, why she doesn’t get hung up on making designs symmetrical, and her country’s love of haze! Hear how all the technical elements of a monster of a show like “Curious Incident” came together and why there are no gobos in “Warhorse,” a show that takes place almost entirely in a rural landscape. And Paule talks about being a female designer in the UK, the stigmas and biases that still remain, and what it was like to be the first woman ever to win the Olivier for lighting. Grab a pint and enjoy this bloody good chat!
Welcome to our first LIVE episode as we team up with ETC to bring you the Young Designer’s Survival Guide! Cory chats with Jon Collins (Scenery), Jason Crystal (Sound), Travis McHale (Lighting) and Tristan Raines (Costumes) about the nuts and bolts of being a young designer working in New York City. The panel has lots to say on topics ranging from assisting to designing on your own, when to join the union, whether you need an agent, how to remain passionate and how to pay that pesky rent. Being a “young” designer often means having to work harder to get noticed or be taken seriously among a team of seasoned pros and the panel shares their thoughts on maneuvering those obstacles. We take some questions from the audience, everyone names their favorite tech food, it’s a party and you’re invited!
Welcome to episode #40 and today’s show with Lighting & Scenic Designer Justin Townsend. Justin is spearheading a brand new program at Brooklyn College to train Broadway Associates and he’s here to tell us all about it. Cory and Justin also dig into many corners of his design process from the plotting stage, to meetings with directors, to his almost whimsy like process of discovery in the theatre. He also shares his thoughts on the responsibility of the LD to be energy efficient, his stance on the ‘save Tungsten’ debate, the influence of one of his mentors, Chris Akerlind, and his current production of “Hamlet” at Classic Stage Company. And Justin teaches Cory about sailing!
Lighting Design in America has a long history of pioneering women and we sit down with one of those women today…it’s Vivien Leone! Vivien is arguably the most experienced, sought after Associate working on Broadway and she brings with her a wealth of knowledge from her 30 years in the business. She and Cory discuss her ongoing relationship with ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and how much of the Broadway production remains the same from the day it opened, the personal and psychological effects she experienced being in tech for a year on ‘Spiderman’, and her experiences with both sexism and ageism in her field. She also shares stories from ‘The Last Ship’ and ‘The Bridges of Madison County’, tells us about the fork in the road that led her to pursue the Associate track, and of COURSE talks about her lighting paperwork, which is considered by many to be the best paperwork in the business.
Don’t adjust your dials…it’s a Thursday BONUS episode with Anne E. McMills, author of the The Assistant Lighting Designer’s Toolkit. Anne is west coast based so she and Cory had a cross-continental chat about the new book. She tells us about the inspiration for the book, her favorite parts, and the new things she learned while interviewing dozens of working lighting designers and assistants. Much of the teachings, hints, and insider lingo in her book has never been documented in a textbook, but has only been taught through on the job training. Listen to her talk about the life of a working assistant and then go pick up a copy for yourself. It’s short and sweet so enjoy!