Inside the old Maedgen theatre resides a mammoth of a set. The Texas Tech spring season kicks off soon with a production of Hay Fever, a comic play by Noël Coward and directed by Dean Nolen. It features a two-story house built upon the proscenium stage, a masterfully crafted home of the Bliss family for two weeks this February. In anticipation for the opening, we decided to take a look behind the scenes with second year MFA Design student Taylor Alfred and her work as the lighting designer for Hay Fever.
"My concentration is in lighting. My previous department projects as lighting designer include Black Girl, Interrupted last semester and DanceTech my first year, as well as assistant lighting designer for Passing, my first project at Texas Tech. These projects took me to where I am now."
Alfred is a big proponent of building on previous experience to overcome new challenges. She admitted that this gargantuan set was intimidating at first, and presented challenges she didn't foresee.
"This is my first time tackling a show like this. It's a challenge, no doubt. But the process has not been as stressful as expected. My past experiences haven't prepared me for this exact challenge, but I was prepared to work to overcome it. I've worked with multiple stories, none quite this tall. It's so tall it actually cuts off a lot of lighting options. Limited options forces creativity, however... thinking outside the box. Literally, thinking outside the box set," she says with a chuckle.
Alfred takes the tone of the show into account as well as the environment. A warm home with naturalistic lighting can balance out the high notes of the comedy, but ultimately she feels that the design depends upon understanding what the characters need.
"It's all part of the intention behind the design, which has an elegant feel to it. In all aspects of the design we wanted to keep with the time period and frame of the show."
Alfred finds comfort and support in the other members of the design and technical teams.
"We're all struggling together. Costume designer, scene designer, even everyone in the electric shop: they're all helping and providing feedback even when it's not expected. And seeing the show come together is exciting. I'm ready."
Alfred is looking forward to taking the experience of this show to future projects.
"I know I'm a better artist than before. These challenges that I have overcome with this and other projects will continue to better my work as an artist in the future. That is something I'll bring with me. Best advice: take it one day at a time."
Hay Fever opens February 6th and runs through February 16 in the Maedgen Theatre at Texas Tech. Tickets are available online or by calling the Box Office at 806-742-3603.