100 Creatives

100 Creatives 2014: Greg Starbird, Theater Lighting Designer

As a theater lighting designer, Greg Starbird does a lot of planning. He analyzes the show's script. He meets with the show's director and other designers to determine a communal approach. He creates a light plot of his initial ideas and tweaks it as he goes along. "In smaller theaters, such as Mildred's Umbrella, I typically work alone to hang, cable, and focus the lights," he tells us. "This can be a long process depending on how involved the plot is, who was in the space last, and how much troubleshooting and repair work needs to be done to get the necessary lights operable."

Planning, he's found, decreases but doesn't eliminate problems in production. "No amount of preparation can ever make tech go perfectly, so I have to be ready to improvise quickly, effectively, and efficiently to satisfy the director and design team without compromising my own aesthetic."

And then there's the question of getting it "right," not just being glitch-free but enhancing the show's impact and deepening the audience's experience.

"Every play has at least one moment of near-crippling self-doubt and at least one moment of self-validation," he says, "and if I'm lucky, they come in that order and the latter outnumbers the former."

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Olivia Flores Alvarez