By Storm Gerlock, ’13
Always planning and thinking about the next big lighting adventure, the assistant lighting designer for PLU Theatre’s production of “Our Town” is gearing up for the two weeks of performances.
With some experience in stage lighting from high school, Beth Steele arrived at PLU with an already established interest in stage lighting and hoped to have that be her focus in her theater major.
When Steele arrived at PLU there wasn’t a professor devoted to teaching stage lighting, so she often took on more responsibility during productions. Steele remains to be one of the only students focused on stage lighting.
“Lighting isn’t the first thing people want to do,” she said.
Steele said she is learning much more now that Amanda Sweger has been hired as the lighting professor. With the increased learning opportunities, Steele is looking forward to focusing on the projects she loves.
Steele said she loves everything about theater and appreciates the collaborative nature of theater that allows for a family-oriented environment. Even with an intensive work schedule, Steele admits that is isn’t all work.
“It’s fun,” Steele said, “it’s a bunch of time you spend with theater majors. It’s going to be funny. It’s going to be comical.”
Steele is currently the assistant lighting designer for PLU’s production of Our Town, which opened last week. Steele said she was thrilled with how the show turned out. Through the process of production, Steele said, there is a large amount of planning dedicated for each show.
Steele spends a large amount of time before the show opens focusing lights, rearranging, and continuously checking individual lights to ensure the play runs smoothly. Most of her work is in the weeks leading up to the opening of the show.
“I don’t have any responsibilities with the run of the show,” Steele said. But she said she does enjoy seeing the final product and admiring the hard work that goes into it.
In addition to Our Town, Steele is also in charge of the lighting for student produced Night of Musical Theater. Steele looks on student productions as “light labs,” where she has the opportunity to experiment with different lighting techniques.
“[This year’s vision] allows me to do a lot of different things with it.”
She is excited to see the evolution of Night of Musical Theater. This year there is a week between the last weekend of Our Town and the starting weekend of Night of Musical Theater.
“Normally there is about a week of change over, and it’s been condensed into a day,” Steele said.
Steele said she plans to use what she learned from Our Town to plan lighting for shows and translating that into Night of Musical Theater. Night of Musical Theater begins showing Nov. 1 in the Black Box Theater.
In the future, Steele said she hopes to be a lighting designer and plans to stay in Seattle for two years before traveling around to see what other places have opportunities for her to continue her passion for creative lighting.