Barriers to entry are everywhere, from grade school, to college, and beyond. How can we change that? What we’ve been told is that hard work and elbow grease are all you need, but the actual fact is that it takes much more than that to reach “success”. With this in mind, it was a privilege this past summer to have a candid conversation with 3-time Tony Nominated Costume Designer Toni-Leslie James. With credits ranging from Footloose to Come From Away, Jelly’s Last Jam to Bernhardt/Hamlet, and The Wild Party to The Scottsboro Boys, hear about her decades-long journey from young, bright-eyed student at Ohio State in the late seventies, to multi-award nominated costume designer. Get your notebooks ready… class is in session.
Changing the Landscape is back this week with Episode 2: Perception of the Unknown. In this episode, the first of two parts, Steve Jones, former Director of Production at the Apollo Theatre in New York City, sits down with Alan to tell us where he came from. Beginning with his origins in Flint, Michigan where he started taking part in theatre activities in grade school, Steve started taking theatre seriously after a sports injury sidelined him for the remainder of his college career. He walks us through his experiences in applying for grad schools, leaving Flint, MI, and his first big-time job in New York City at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
The podcast is about to hit 100 episodes, but before that milestone, we are pleased to present a brand new mini-series entitled ‘Changing the Landscape: Examining Race in Theatrical Design.’ Guest hosted by Lighting Designer Alan Edwards, this multi-part series will ask the questions where are the theatrical designers of color in history? Why has the roster appeared to grow only recently? What are the challenges of going from grade school to professional? And is there anything that can be done? In this first episode, ‘It’s Not That We Don’t Exist’, Alan sits down with Cory to discuss the impetus of the mini-series and then talks with Lighting Designer Kathy Perkins who tells us about her path from Mobile, Alabama to the world of professional design, why she decided to document and write about Black theatre-makers, how she thinks schools can do better at recruiting and seeking out young Black students, and whether she believes there is a shortage of Black designers or just a perception problem. She is a great and knowledgable voice to kick off the series and we hope you’ll join us over the coming weeks as Alan speaks with educators and designers such as Toni-Leslie James, Steve Jones, Luqman Brown and more.
It’s the end of week 10 of quarantine which means it’s time for another Happy Hour and episode #99! Joining Cory and Jen this week arre Associate Scenic Designer Erica Hemminger, Associate Lighting Designer Jessica Creager, Costume Designer Linda Cho, and Lighting Designer Japhy Weideman. As parts of the world slowly start to open up, the group shares their feelings on venturing further out from home and how New York (and North Carolina where Japhy is) are starting to feel a little different. We hear stories on how Erica (heading up Derek McLane’s studio) continues to work on future productions of ‘Moulin Rouge’ and other shows even as we wait to see when theatre will return, Jess tells us about being 4 days out from freezing ‘Company’ on Broadway when everything shut down, Japhy shares stories of working with the great Terrence McNally, sadly one of the first high profile deaths related to Covid19, and Linda makes a loaf on Sourdough LIVE on air! It’s a podcast and a cooking class! It’s peak quarantine cliches! What are you waiting for??
The pandemic has raised a host of questions regarding current and future contracts, pay schedules, working conditions, health insurance, union dues and many other topics and Carl Mulert is back with us to help wade through it all. Carl is the Business Rep for Live Performance for United Scenic Artists, and he joins us, along with Jen Schriever and Bradley King, to break down what we know about how theatre will come back (very little) and what questions will need to be answered before that happens (quite a lot.) Carl also shares with us conversations being had regarding streaming rights, a very important distinction in how the different USA contracts are legally binding, and how the lack of leadership from the federal government is making it difficult to establish guidelines for how venues will be able to reopen. Knowledge is power so tune in and power up with this important episode!
We’re back this week with another Quarantine Happy Hour featuring Scenic Designer Mike Carnahan, Production Designers Rob Bissinger and Anita La Scala, Scenic Designer Donyale Werle, Costume Designer Paloma Young, and Lighting Designers Jeff Croiter and Jen Schriever! After checking in as to how everyone is doing at the end of week 7, the group dives in to discuss what kind of work is appropriate to do before a contract, how people are engaging with future work, they discuss the newly released Barrington Stage plan for their summer shows, and whether everyone is having crazy dreams (hint: yes). Paloma tells us how the pandemic threw a wrench in her wedding plans, Mike recounts getting the last flight out of Brazil in March, and Donyale explains how she’s essentially been preparing for a quarantine her entire life. There are surprise appearances from babies and dogs, Rob shares details on a secret hobby and Jeff brings a really big bottle of Gin!
The world remains shut down but our Happy Hour rages on here at the podcast with episode 96. This week we’ve got Scenic Designers Adam Koch and Paul dePoo, Projection Designer Alex Koch, Costume Designer Andrea Hood, and Lighting Designers Amanda Zieve and Jen Schriever. The group shares their feelings on what changed this week as everyone started thinking bigger picture about the theatre industry as a whole and what our jobs might look like when they come back. Everyone shares their shutdown stories, where they are getting their news, whether audiences will want to come see a show, how we can help graduating young designers, and of course a check-in on everyone’s unemployment status. Pour whatever you’ve got lying around and come join the party!
The madness and mayhem continues this week with our third Quarantine Happy Hour. Joining Cory and Jen is Arnulfo Maldonado, Sarah Laux, Adam Honoré, Palmer Hefferan, Nevin Steinberg, and Artistic Dir of Philidelphia Theatre Company Paige Price. Paige gives us insight into what it’s like trying to keep a regional theatre afloat during this crisis and how she is approaching difficult decisions about furloughing staff, canceling shows, selecting a new season, and managing audience expectations. We expand on last week’s conversations regarding digital options for theatre and discuss Williamtown’s plan to produce an all audio season and what it would mean to stream/live broadcast more theatre. The gang also discusses wiping down groceries, whether we’ve all become hypochondriacs, if anyone is feeling the need to be creative right now, some Unemployment success stories (woohoo!) and Sarah tells us all a joke! Come for the company, stay for the comedy!
In what is fast becoming a tradition, the podcast is back with an all new episode and an all new Quarantine Happy Hour. This week, Cory sits down with Anna Louizos, Wilson Chin, Alejo Vietti, Isabella Byrd, Clint Ramos, Tyler Micoleau and in1 all star Jen Schriever! The gang checks in on each other and everyone discusses routine vs not routine, watching the news vs turning it off, how everyone is eating, cooking, working out and passing time and what they miss the most being stuck at home. There’s a report back from the large United Scenic Artist Wingspace Salon this week, some good news about union dues and healthcare payments, and the group discusses when we might get back to work, what the world of regional theatre might look like post Covid-19, what kind of shows writers will be creating, how art has typically responded to mass world events in history, and whether we’ve seen the end of shaking hands and (gasp!) the double cheek kiss. You’ve got nothing better to do so grab a glass and join the happy hour!
In times of need and uncertainty, we turn to our friends for comfort, so it only made sense that we gathered a slew of friends of the pod to come together for a Quarantine episode of the podcast. Joining Cory for a Friday night drink is Buist Bickley, Darron West, Caite Hevner, Beowulf Boritt, Jason Lyons, Jen Caprio, Jen Schriever, Jason Lyons and Bradley King. Everyone shared how they are coping with the new normal caused by Covid-19 and how it’s taking its toll on everyone’s personal and professional lives. They chat about the work lost, the uncertainty of work in the future, and what it means for the theatre community at large. We hear from the parents of the group as to how they are working through this time with their young children, Beowulf tells us about making masks on his grandmother’s old sewing machine, Jason tells us how he’s working to continue the important education of his students and Bradley offers useful info on behalf of United Scenic Artists. And everyone shares what they are reading and watching to pass the time. There’s a lot of laughs and a lot of love in this group and it’s just a small slice of what all designers are feeling these days. Enjoy listening in on the chat while staying HOME and staying safe!
This week we are sitting down with Projection Designer and bespectacled wonder-woman Olivia Sebesky! She is currently a Knight of Illumination nominee for her work on the lastest Aerosmith concert and she’s here to tell us the journey of that design including a 35-minute preshow retrospective of the band and the massive undertaking of clearing all the rights for every frame of footage. She’s also sharing stories about her other recent concert designs including Hootie and the Blowfish and James Taylor. Cory and Olivia discuss her theatrical work on shows like ‘Jerry Springer’ and ‘Me…Jane’ and discuss a whole host of topics facing projection designers including content budgets, software costs, to program or not, how she divides up the work among her team, and how to find the balance of how much video to incorporate into a show. She tells us how (friend of the show!) Justin Townsend may be responsible for her career and why by the time you listen to this, she will have spent some quality time with a Beluga whale!