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!
This week’s guest is Lighting Designer Mark Stanley. Mark is one of the founders of the Hemsley Lighting Program and someone who knew legendary designer Gilbert Hemsley personally. He tells us about Gil’s legacy, his unique and one-of-a kind personality and how in the past 32 years the program has grown from a single internship to an array of programs including the Portfolio Review weekend, Mentorship Program and other outreach initiatives. Mark and Cory also have a lively chat about the challanges of teaching design from paper plots to research to concept statements and tech rehearsal nuances, and the philosophies Mark bases his curriculum on at Boston University. And he shares insightful stories from his current job as Resident Lighting Designer for the New York City Ballet and his past work with New York City Opera.
Happy Thanksgiving! Your waistline isn’t the only thing bursting at the seams this year. Welcome to part two of our doubled-stuffed episode with Moving Light Programmer Tim Rogers. This week, Tim is joined by friend of the show Jason Lyons! Jason and Tim tell us how they first started working together and how they’ve established a shared language and style over their many years of shows. They also discuss the process for their current hit, ‘On the Town’, why they like sitting next to each other at the tech table, how they drive associates crazy, the artistic devision of labor when it comes to lighting a scene, and common mistakes young lighting designers might make when working with a new programmer. And learn what your show has been missing this whole time…a little color called “slalmon.”
Welcome to a special two-part interview with Moving Light Programmer Tim Rogers. In this week’s episode, Cory and Tim discuss the history of the ML programmer on Broadway, the importance of the community of programmers, and his process, from sitting down at the desk for the first time until opening night. Tim shares stories from working with Howell Binkley, Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, what it’s like trying to balance work and a family that includes three kids, and discusses the departmental nuances between the lighting designer, the associate and the programmer. SPEAKING of which…come back next week for part two when Jason Lyons joins the conversation as we give you access inside the world of a designer and his long time programmer in a way like never before.
It’s two for the price of one today! Our first ever joint episode features married couple Driscoll Otto (Lighting/Projections) and Amy Pedigo-Otto (Costumes.) The lovely couple spent a morning in their brand new backyard chatting with Cory about being married to another designer and balancing the freelance lifestyle with family, which will soon include a newborn baby. Driscoll tells us about designing ‘Game of Thrones: The Exibition’ and Amy talks about working in the TV world on shows such as ‘The Americans’ and ‘Louie.’ It’s a round-table in Brooklyn and you’re invited!
This week’s guest is lighting designer Al Crawford! Al is a legend in the world of dance lighting having served as the Lighting Director for Alvin Ailey since 1998. Cory and Al discuss the ins and outs of touring with one of the most famous dance companies in the world and what it takes to maintain the lighting for dozens and dozens of repertory pieces. From international cargo laws, to language barriers, to ever evolving technology…Al has developed a method to navigate it all. Al shares lots of stories including what it was like trying to do a show in Greece right after 9/11, how he approaches designing a state dinner at the White House, and why there is nothing greater than finding a good set of headphones for those long flights.
You’ll need two hands to count the number of Tony noms this week’s guest has garnered, it’s Beverly Emmons! Cory and Beverly cover her vast and varied career and her collaborations with such luminaries as Martha Graham, Jules Fisher, Merce Cunningham and Kenny Leone. She recounts becoming an LD by way of dance school, her longstanding relationship with USA 829 and her involvement in the union exam, how the idea for The Lighting Archive came about, and what is was like following in the footsteps of Jean Rosenthal, Peggy Clark, and Tharon Musser. She also shares her thoughts on lighting research, hand drafting, pre-visualation tools, balancing work and family and a whole host of other topics. And hear her describe an incredibly bizarre and fascinating design process proposed by Robert Rauschenberg for a dance by Merce Cunningham in which she created a randomized cue structure out of mostly existing worklights, hall lights, grid lights and flashlights that could never be the same from performance to performance. Pretty soon you’ll be yelling to turn the worklights ON!
Today’s guest is lighting designer and resident tall human Joel Silver! Joel and Cory chat about the designer/associate relationship and Joel shares stories from working on shows with Kevin Adams and Peter Kaczorowski. They also touch on Joel’s feelings regarding crew relationships, cueing under pressure, being social outside of the theatre and (gasp!) taking purposeful time off. Joel also has a great deal of experience in the industrial world and he tells us about navigating a focus on a convention center floor and getting a corporate logo color just right. Not blue…I said BLUE!