Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 48

for the class (such as freshmen and
sophomores) were excluded from the
discussion. To continue this asynchronous review of paperwork, in the spring
semester reviews of lighting paperwork,
resumes, and portfolios were moved to
the Slack workspace for the lighting program, which includes access for the four
lighting faculty members and all 15 students. Because the stage management
teams were using Slack workspaces for
productions, community members were
already familiar with the software, which
became a virtual and asynchronous way
for the faculty and students to come together on this work.
For those faculty planning on inperson classes, the situation inspired
creative efforts to make the educational
experiences rich and rewarding for the
students, while always maintaining safety through social distancing. One exemplary collaboration was undertaken by
Perry's Advanced Lighting Design class
and Genesee Spridco's Acting Studio I:
Movement class. Using Plato's Allegory
of the Cave, Perry and Spridco explored
the use of movement and neutrality by
mapping out the rehearsal studio and creating three areas for shadow exploration.
This collaboration proved fruitful in
an unexpected way as well. Due to visa
and travel restrictions, one of our firstyear graduate lighting students, Yingman
Tang, spent the entire first year Zooming
from China. It was imperative that this
student receive the same value from the
class as the students physically present.
Through the use of the " request remote
control " feature of Zoom, and the use
of ETCnomad software, Tang (with only
a slight time delay) was able to control
the portable lighting rig in the rehearsal
room at Krannert Center, view the results, and interact with the students. One
of the other lighting students involved in
this collaboration told me that coming
into the rehearsal studio every Thursday
morning was a highlight of his fall semester, once again proving the importance of
gathering.
Zoom will be with us for many years
to come as producing organizations find
ways to bring their teams together while
economizing on the physical time and
travel required to achieve their production
goals. Based on the success in Advanced
Lighting Design, our graduate student
in China, as the " virtual " assistant lighting designer, coordinated the first focus

48 | THEATRE DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY | SPRING 2021

Opening night in the Sunken Garden. Production team included: Stage Directors: Nathan Gunn and
Sarah Wigley, Music Director: Michael Tilley, Technical Director: Tatsuya Ito, Properties Master: Mark
Kennedy, Lighting Designer: Cameron Koniarski, Sound Designers: Walter Koonce and Abbey Nettleton,
Stage Manager: Sidney Sprunger. | Photo by Brant Thomas Murray.

Lyric Under the Stars
Julie Gunn and Nathan Gunn, co-directors of Lyric Theatre @ Illinois, had always
dreamed of holding outdoor performances at Allerton Park & Retreat Center. Gifted
to the University of Illinois in 1946, this 5,500-acre estate is located in the town of
Monticello, approximately 45 minutes west of Champaign. The pandemic gave them a
perfect reason to stage a series of opera and musical excerpts in the Sunken Garden,
a space designed as the " finale " to the Formal Gardens. As a space open to the public, this presented a new level of engagement with the community, and a chance to
expand our working relationship with the staff of Allerton, who are also employed by
the university. The logistics of this event focused the student-led teams on what executing an outdoor event would entail in the real world. Sitting in the Sunken Garden
in October during both evening performances of Lyric Under the Stars and listening
to the singers' voices carry into the night sky was an emotional highlight of the fall
semester. It's truly amazing what magic can be created with some stage platforms,
a pop-up tent for the small student band, 30 LED and incandescent lighting fixtures,
luminary bags with flickering LED tea lights, and several hundred feet of string lights.

" Lyric Under the Stars was the first outdoor event I designed, and I
learned a great deal throughout the whole design process. Having
to consider the task lighting for the actual venue, along with the
logistics of getting power to fixtures at a location that was never
intended to have live performances (especially at night) proved to
be the greatest challenges, but also the greatest lessons. I started
to think as a designer in an entirely new mindset, and loved every minute of it. The creative control I felt was illuminating (no
pun intended), and with the entire team's help, my vision for those
few nights out at Allerton Park came together beautifully. The
memories created and the lessons I learned from this experience
will stick with me for the rest of my life-a group of artists getting together to create while the world fell apart at the seams. "
--Cameron Koniarski, senior, lighting designer for Lyric Under the Stars



Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021

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Theatre Design & Technology - Spring 2021 - 1
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