Among the many activities of my youth, I would setup a stage in my house with construction paper and cardboard sets for the purposes of some invented production or another. I recall the wonder and magic I felt during the instances when I had occasion to step on stage at my elementary school. During my final year there, I played the lead role in the school musical, but also managed to be responsible for the scenery, props, and staging. I continued acting and theatrical production through drama classes in middle school.

One of my favorite books to withdraw from the library during those years was Theatrical Design and Production by J. Michael Gillette. Eventually, I was given my own copy of this treasured text from which I learned the intricacies of production and particularly lighting design. Later, Mr. Gillette would become my college advisor for a period.

I did not enroll in drama classes during my high school years. However, during my junior year at North Canyon, I offered my services as Lighting Designer for the upcoming production of Oklahoma!. Upon reviewing the script, I created a proposal for the lighting design and then drafted light plots and other related documents. Many long days went into the design and implementation of the lighting setup, as well as assisting with most all other technical aspects of the production from rigging to sound.

In addition to my work in the school television studio and elsewhere on campus, I continued in this capacity with many subsequent productions (such as 1984, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, ceremonies, and talent shows) for the remainder of that year and throughout my senior year (including the day of my graduation).

Light plot for North Canyon's production of 1984.Light plot for North Canyon's production of Joseph.

As part of my proposed minor, I took a class in theatrical lighting at the University of Arizona, where last I had the opportunity to light for the stage. While I love working in theatre and creating theatrical light designs, I am saddened to note that I do not foresee any opportunities to do such work in the future. My short stint at theatrical production will be remembered fondly. My interest in creative lighting will continue to live in some form as part of my visual effects work.


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theatrical lighting

Copyright ©2004–2005 Peter Torpey.