Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Behind-the-Scenes: Lights Up, Backstage

Andrew Stephens, SCR's Segerstrom Stage Lighting Technician.

It's all in the lighting. From photography to concerts and plays, lighting can set the mood and tone of any art piece or performance. In Red, the character Ken observes, "To keep it mysterious, to let the pictures pulsate. Turn on bright lights and the stage effect is ruined—suddenly it's nothing but a bare stage with a bunch of fake walls."

Stephens in the Segerstrom booth, at the console.
As Ken points out, lighting can make or break how people see art. And on the Segerstrom Stage, there's an SCR staff member who is an important part of making sure the lighting equipment is set up and ready for each production. Alongside the master electrician and crew, lighting technician Andrew makes sure the right lighting instruments are in place high above the audience, works with the designers to program each cue for every "look" of the show and is up in the booth for every performance running the lighting console.

Stephens grew up splitting his time between two countries: the United States (Kansas City, Kan.) and Australia (Brisbane). At a young age, his interest in lighting sparked when he attended concerts. Stephens was fascinated by the lights and the people behind them. He recalls, "I would find myself spending more time watching the lighting operators and less time watching the shows themselves."

Late in high school, Stephens found himself with a budding interest in theatre. When he attended the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, his appreciation for theatrical lighting only deepened. SCR also happened to ping on Stephens' radar during his college years, and while visiting family in Orange County, he noticed SCR when attending a concert next door at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. As soon as a job was available, he applied, made the move and has been with SCR for three seasons now.

As he watches every performance on the Segerstrom Stage, he finds that he can agree with Ken's observation in Red.

"I feel like lighting becomes another character on stage," says Stephens. "In any given cue, the intensity, color or angle of light can change the mood or shift the way the audience perceives what's happening on stage."

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