“Every director is always trying to find a different approach, their approach, their interpretation of it,” said Director of “Sweeney Todd” Becky Faulds-Howard. “I had to convey that, what I have up here (her brain), into reality and physicality for the set and then the lighting, the moods and the tones you want to create with that.”
Doubling as the costume designer, Howard looks to infuse the world of “Sweeney Todd” with a 1970s punk clothing style to set it apart from previous iterations. With this choice in costume design, she is careful to not impose a style just because she wants to do it.
“You still have to think of it in context of the play and the story that you want to tell. The costumes, the lighting, the set design are there to enhance it,” said Howard. “It’s still all about the story. It’s still all about the characters … If they are only talking about the costumes, something is wrong. You want them to have the whole experience.”
Over at Wise Auditorium, Technical Director Denise Weatherly-Green is hard at work getting the stage ready for “Sweeney Todd’s” opening night.
“I can design on paper but that doesn’t matter. What really matters is how it (the play) comes to life and how it works with everything else,” said Green.
Green has taught it all from acting to lighting to set design in her 20 years as a theatre professor. Everything the theater department teaches, she has taught it before. For the upcoming “Sweeney Todd”, she is in charge of all the design and construction of the set and making sure it all comes together before the Demon Barber makes his way to TJC.
Upon entering the auditorium, echoes of hammers pounding away at nails bounce against the walls. Drills dance with screws, twisting and digging into the wood. Up in the rafters, the floorboards creak from students making adjustments to the spotlights.
The buzz in the scene is no different than a busy beehive. The workers all know their roles and execute them with utmost dedication; each providing for the colony their own way.
“If you know how to cut a puzzle and put a puzzle together, no matter what, you can do just about anything,” said Green.
According to Green, lighting is one of the key components of a successful production.
“I think lighting creates the heartbeat of the show. It creates mood. No matter what I do for scenery, it’s not complete without lighting,” said Green.
For Lighting Director Jacob Davis, growing up in the panhandle of Texas, the luminance of the sun lit the path that led him to fall in love with light.
“I remember all of the sunrises and the sunsets and just the beauty of the sky,” said Davis. “Even though I wasn’t looking at it as a kid in that way, I think it made such an impact on me, that that’s what just kind of subconsciously, I mean my art form, the way that I could outlet my emotions, was through lighting.”
Once a TJC student, now a theater professor since 2010, Davis will be running all 220 lights that will help create the stark atmosphere of “Sweeney Todd”.
According to Davis, the lighting only works once sets and costumes are complete. It isn’t until tech rehearsal, three days before the play starts, that the play comes to life and all the kinks are worked out. This allows Davis to see everyone in costume, all the built sets, and adjust the colors/intensity of the lights accordingly, for example, the color of blood may come off purple if a blue light is too intense.
“The lighting designer has to be the most prepared out of anyone there. They have to know what they are doing and be ready to go,” said Davis. “There’s no time for error.”
According to music major Taylor Collins, looking at the bare stage at the beginning of the semester was overwhelming. After all the hard work and “Sweeney Todd” soon opening, she shares her feelings of the crew that made it all possible.
“I love it. It makes you feel like you are part of a family and I don’t want to leave.”