Travis Baldwin, design and production junior, just won an award for “Excellence in Lighting Design” from the United States Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) Southwest Symposium, a regional conference of workshops and design competitions. Travis has designed the lights for several OCU productions, including the show that he used for this contest: Peter and the Starcatcher.
Q: What did you have to do to enter the USITT competition?
A: Participants enter 4×8 panels of pictures and their concepts for a show they’ve designed. I used Peter and the Starcatcher, presenting my pictures of the emotional and quality of light research, as well as production photos, cue lists, and a paragraph about my concept to the judges.
Q: What happens, now that you’ve won?
A: I won a week of free training with Vari-Lite (a worldwide designer/manufacturer of lighting products) in Dallas. After the training, I take an exam, and if I pass, I’ll be certified for warranty repairs on their equipment.
Q: How do you begin emotional research?
A: First, I read the show – once to enjoy the story, a second time to figure out specific lighting needs, and a third time for conceptual ideas. Then, I decide the arc of show. For Peter and the Starcatcher, the arc is how Peter and Molly’s relationship flourishes. My lights reflected that relationship: the lights started out showing cramped spaces that opened up to wide spaces in act two, when the characters opened up.
Q: What is your favorite show you have designed?
A: The 25th Anniversary Oklahoma City Bombing Project last year. There was such a connection to the story. That’s why I do theatre – to help a community or create change.
Q: What is your dream show to design?
A: After the Fall by Arthur Miller. He’s a great American playwright, and his life is interesting. The play is semi-autobiographical. it’s fascinating to see him struggle with the power of love – not necessarily in positive way.
Q: What is the worst part about designing lights?
A: Dealing with the dynamic of a team that doesn’t mesh well. To create a good design, you need to have all the designers on board and cooperative.
Q: What’s the best part?
A: Seeing audiences react to the show. Fall semester last year, I worked at the children’s theatre as light designer and stage manager. I’m not a kid or children’s theatre person, but it was amazing to see the kids’ reactions and the joy it brought them.
Q: What are you working on right now?
A: Both The Liar for Stage II and Evita, coming up in April.
Q: When you watch movies, do you think about the lighting?
A: Not usually in movies, though sometimes, if I’m walking around in buildings and the lighting is weird, I’ll fixate on it for a bit.
Q: If you had to pick a different career, which job would you choose?
A: I’d probably try to be a dog trainer. I used to dogsit for about ten different families in high school. I loved playing and bonding with the dogs.
Q: What is a special skill you’ve always wanted to have?
A: I would like to have perfect pitch. I’m very much an aural person, so I want that next level to my hearing.
Q: Are you a pyromaniac?
A: No. It’s fun on occasion.
Q: What is the ultimate dream?
A: I’m still figuring that out.
Q: In the race of life, are you the tortoise or the hare?
A: I’m the tortoise: I like to be slow and methodical to figure out the best course of action before I start anything.
Q: What is your favorite light source?
A: Source Four 26°
I thanked him for the specificity. Most people say “sun.” What a gentleman and scholar. Travis Baldwin, ladies and gentlemen.