Blog By: Sydney Moody; Marketing Intern

 

Our cast members at Lyric have been blessing the Civic Center with thigh-high boots this past week, and they’re leaping into this week with their performances! We’ve seen quite the work put in by our previous two members of Lyric Theatre in our blogs, but there is someone who works behind the scenes to create the scene. That’s right, in today’s blog, we will be interviewing our set designer, Kimberly Powers! Let’s drill right into the blog by starting off with learning a bit about her.

 

Moody: “How did you get into theatre? How did you get into professional theatre?”

MATILDA SET – JUNE 2022

Powers: “I started, ironically enough, doing set construction in my sophomore year of high school. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that set design was an actual job…one that somebody paid you money to complete, even! I thought it was something the art teacher did on the side, but my only model for this until that moment was doing high school theatre in a cafetorium. I did my first apprentice technician job at Colorado Shakespeare Festival in 1999, where I fell in love with scenic art and all of the detail that goes into good scenery. Even as a kid though, I’d ‘play Barbie’s with my sisters by setting up their houses and getting their hair and clothes situated, and then I’d quit. Creating the world for these characters was (and still is!) playing to me.”

 

We hope Powers has shown some of you out there that set design is a fantastic job opportunity, as well as achievable! Set design seems like a long process, but Powers helped to saw the next question into pieces to help us understand just how long it can be!

CAROUSEL SET – JULY 2022

Moody: “What is it like designing sets? What is your process? ”

 

Powers: “A lot of emails and phone calls, research, more research, more emails…More paperwork than you’d likely believe. My process varies per production. Sometimes it’s a new space but a show I’ve done before, or a space and director I know but a show I’ve never done…Each production comes with its own challenges and rewards. The goal of all of them is to figure out the story we are telling, why we are telling it now, and what’s the best way to help assist the audience in understanding the story. I start with talking with the director and team about all of those ideas and matching those ideas up to the research (i.e. architectural images, specific works of art, pop culture images) that fit the story and style of storytelling we’ve all decided upon. From there, I create ground plans and other drafting, little sketches and/or models – whatever images I can use to help communicate my ideas. That tends to vary, based on the show and the director. The shows at the Civic are so big and the tech process is so quick that I’ve found a model to be a very helpful way of communicating with the director, choreographer, and the rest of the design team.

 

We’re so happy that Powers has found her dream team she can work with! Now, with most dreams comes a nightmare of a set that catches set designers off guard, so let’s find out if Powers has a set designer nightmare.

 

Moody: “Has there been a piece of set that gives you nightmares, such as it was extremely challenging to design or the process was difficult?

 

Powers: “There are no certainties in theatre, and set design is no exception to this rule. What looks good on paper or makes sense to everyone in the room may not work onstage. We may have great plans, but until you see the full scale model (i.e. the actual set), it’s not clear that the brilliant ideas you’ve come up with will work. You have to be flexible and always put the needs of the entire production first…Sometimes that includes some beautiful scenic gesture, and sometimes that gesture gets cut, because of time, money, or just plain didn’t work. I know this doesn’t entirely answer your question, but every process can be difficult or easy, depending on how hard you hold onto your ideas versus how willing you are to go with the flow a little. Thankfully, I’ve gotten to the point in my career that I can (generally) relax a little more and not have anxiety about every choice I make. After all, it’s just show business – not brain surgery. 🙂

 

It’s so good to see her perspective on the daunting set that can come someone’s way. Now, just as every theatre person has a show they refuse to let go of, we asked Powers if there was a set design she got attached to.

KINKY BOOTS – WORKSOP EXTERIOR 

Moody: “Has there been a set that you didn’t want to tear down after it was completed? For instance, you got an emotional attachment to it or it was your favorite?

 

Powers: “Nope. I have no attachment to the physical work. I miss the energy of being in the room, doing that work, with people I care about though. Sometimes, it’s hard to leave a production with people I have grown to adore and won’t see again for months or years, depending on whether our paths cross again. Sometimes you forge some really great friendships in this business, even though you may live across the country from each other. Without sounding cliché, it felt great to come back to Lyric and work after two years away from some of my favorite people in the business. It’s always comforting to be in a room with people that you care about and trust.

 

Wow! What a great example of how connections and friendships in the theatre industry can make the world of a difference and can make the experience so much better! With that being said, we ended the interview by asking Powers if she had some more advice to share with us.                                 KINKY BOOTS – WORKSHOP INTERIOR                        

Moody: “Do you have any advice for those in theatre or trying to get into the professional world?”

 

Powers: “Life is beautiful and hard, and theatre is merely a reflection of that. Pay attention to the world around you. Notice the way the leaves change colors in the fall, and observe how a building decays over time. Always prioritize relationships with people, as they are the best primary research out there. :-)”

KINKY BOOTS – MULAN RUNWAY

Powers is truly an inspiration, don’t you think? She has really opened up our eyes to the process of set designing and the connections you build through it. We hope you come see KINKY BOOTS July 19-24 at the Civic Center to see her set design become a reality!

Lyric at the Plaza

The Rocky Horror Show

October 5, 2022 – October 30, 2022