I Once Worked For A Christian Church

Okay, it wasn’t for very long. Literally only, like, three hours. But, unholy shit, what an adventure.

First of all, know that one of my jobs for a while has been as a lighting designer or technician of some sort. I’ve talked about it at length in a different post, if you’re wondering what a Theatrical Lighting Designer does.

So, there’s a saying that there’s only six people in theatre because we are so tight-knit that everybody knows somebody who knows you. Well, a friend of mine of Facebook had a friend who usually worked for a church and was going on vacation, thus needing somebody to run the lights for them.

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Lighting Designer Stuff

They said they would pay $100 per day and, back then, that was worth it to me since it would only take, as I thought, two hours out of two of my Sundays. Sure, I’ll take $200 from Christians any day. So, I took the job.

My boyfriend went with me because it was in Everett which, if you know Washington, is shitty. So, we drove from Bellingham the night before and stayed with a friend in Seattle. We ended up staying up too late and woke up feeling like crap. Honestly, we looked hung over, but we weren’t.

So we then got lost on the way to the church. We get there, and I find out that it’s not a real church, it’s a “church” that rents time from a local theatre each Sunday. Well, I get there and I find out that I’m not allowed to use half of the lights available because the theatre doesn’t want them to. Cool.

Then I find out that I can’t record cues, which is fine because I’ve free-styled lighting before, but then the pastor’s wife came up and started telling me to “save” cues and pushing between me and my instruments, which is really freaking annoying.

I knew really quickly that this wasn’t going to work because they didn’t want me, they wanted their normal lady and I was wearing a pentagram necklace. It was for a show, but whatever. Christians gonna Christian. But then something crazy happened just before people started to file in to get seated.

THEY STARTED SPEAKING IN TONGUES

I’m not kidding. Dylan and I were in the booth and they formed this circle and started swaying and praying, which is whatever, but then one of them went full crazy person. Holy crap. Half way through the stupid event the children, twins less than 8, began doing it, too. Their parents were so loud and said they could feel God within her. Ew.

But I’m here and I have to work! It ended up that I was there for three hours! Remember, I had gotten there late, so, apparently, I should have been there for four hours.

I’m sorry, but $200 isn’t enough money to spend my time with the insane.

So, after far too many songs about God trying to be cool, it was finally over and I waited quietly to get my check and go. This took 45 minutes. I suspect it’s because they had to convince the Pastor’s wife to pay me.

Well, eventually a woman who may have introduced herself to me came my direction holding a check. Luckily, I had my Satanic Bible in my purse and reached for that. As the poor girl handed me the check, I opened the book and slipped the check between the pages for safe keeping.

Let me tell you, the look on her face made me worried the check would be canceled by the time I got to the ATM down the street. It wasn’t. I never went back and they never asked me where I was, so I suppose they agreed that this was the best course of action for both parties.

The best part? When I was depositing the check, I noticed that they had paid me the entire amount in advance.

Have a great night, my Infernal Beauties.

HS!

LH

I’m Working a Show

It’s called Always… Patsy Cline and it’s at a really cute little venue about an hour away from where I live. It’s a very country-artistic place that has live music downstairs and puts on concerts and plays in the loft of the barn the bar calls home.

A shot of the lighting

Well, I just saw something really cool: somebody crying. This might not seem AMAZING, but it is for me because I’m the lighting designer and operator, so seeing this emotions means I’m doing my job correctly.

Basically, if my lights were bad, people wouldn’t like the show or wpuld be distracted. Plus, if I’m really bad at my job, I wpils end up making the actors look weird, which would lower the quality.

That’s all, my loves. Post on Depression coming later.

HS!

LH

I Am A Lighting Designer

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a Middle and High School Drama teacher in the Pacific Northwest, but that doesn’t really pay a lot, especially since I’m only a part-time teacher. So, on the side, I also work as a Theatrical Lighting Designer.

“What does a Theatrical Lighting Designer do, Lauren?”

I’m glad you asked.

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Me working as a Light Board Operator

Well, a Lighting Designer in a theatrical setting is responsible for, well, giving the show light in a way that is artistic, but doesn’t distract from the play; giving basic light to the show, but without making it boring or flat; trying to manage complementing all of the costumes, sets, and actors while also matching the tone of the script as well as the Director’s “vision”.

So, the first thing I do when I get a script, is read it three times. The first time, I read it to enjoy it. I just want to go through the story and read it. NEVER watch another production this early in the game because you don’t want to be influenced by another Lighting Designer’s design for a specific show.

The second time I read through a script, I read it for comprehension. I want to find out what is going on below the surface of the characters and the play itself. Something that is important is how characters relate to each other and how they feel about the environments they’re interacting with. Are they in a spooky forest with their lover? Is this character alone in their childhood home? What if that home just burned down? All of these things will inform your design.

The third time I read the script is my technical reading. I want to see where the scene changes are, where any blackouts should be. Pro Tip: Don’t use too many blackouts, because when the stage goes dark, it’s a really powerful statement. I also look at time of day, what kind of building they are in, what time of year we are set in, as well as time period. Why? Because a Denny’s in 1980’s New York City at 11:30pm is going to have different lighting that a cabin in the mid 1800’s at high noon. Dig, dog?

Well, all of this also has to match up with the Director’s “Vision”, which is their idea of how the play should look when presented opening night. This can either be very, very easy or absolute HELL to work with. It all depends on the Director. If you find a good Director, stick with them. If they like your work, or like working with you, you’ll always have a job and they’ll push to get you paid more if they can.

Why does this matter if YOU’RE the designer of the lights? Well, because you might be doing the classic Our Town, but your Director envisions it taking place in a world where humans evolved in caves. These would require two very different designs.

The nest thing you’ll do is find out what kind of lights you’re going to have, how many the theatre has, where the lights are located in the theatre, and what kind of board they have.

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Average Light Board

You need to know these things because you have to prepare to price, purchase, rent, design, focus, hang, and go into dress rehearsal. Producers and Directors will want you to go in and purchase exactly what you need so that when you get into the theatre you can use a team to move the lights where they need to be moved right away. This also includes adding gels. Gels are these very thin sheets of colored or textured plastic-y material that change the color of the light. You can also use these fun little things called gobos, which are these little metal or glass discs that are used to sculpt the light into a design that can be seen on stage.

The faster this is done, the faster you can move into writing cues. This just means you go onto the light board and tell the computer which lights it should turn on; how quickly they should rise and fall; how bright they should be; and, if you have LEDs, what color the light should be. LED lights allow for amazing color variety and this allows your design freedom that traditional lights don’t provide. Sometimes, like in the show I am currently working, you’ll have multiple light boards with no computer to write cues into.

After all of this, you’re ready for the cue to cue. This means that the actors put on their makeup and costumes and move from each scripted cue, such as entrances and exits, and technical cues, such as light, sound, and set cues. This is just a good way to make sure there aren’t any design issues in the show. It’s a good way to see how the light works with the final colors on stage; see any shadows or bright spots; and make sure your design fits with the Director’s vision.

If all of this goes smoothly, you give the cues you’ve written to your Stage Manager (Aka God of the Theatre) and then hang out until the end of Hell Week to make sure the Stage Manager is calling your cues correctly and they’re coming up at the right times. You’ll also be asked to train or manage the Spot Light Operators, telling them where you want them to focus their beams and, if you have multiple SPOs, who should take which character during scenes where they both need to have their lamps on.

Once the show opens, you’re done and can take a long break… sometimes. Other times, especially in small theatres, you’ll be asked to run the light board, too. This will be the case more often than not early on in a career. You won’t often get paid more, if you’re getting paid at all, but you’ll get a good reputation and that is far more valuable in the theatre world.

Well, there it is! I hope you have a wonderful day, Thespians!

HS!

LH