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Showing posts from 2013

Christmas as an Atheist.

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Two stories.

Story #1:  I was standing in line at the post office a few weeks ago, mailing a bunch of packages filled with Christmas presents for friends and family.  The line was LOOOOOOONNNNGGGGG, of course - who goes to the post office in the couple of weeks before Christmas expecting a short wait?  And while standing in line, the man in front of me started a conversation with those around him.  He said that what would make the wait more bearable was if the post office was playing Christmas music (there was no music playing).  Then, after a pause, he said "well, I guess that's offensive these days."  He then proceeded to talk about how stupid it was that people think Christmas is offensive, and how one day he said "Merry Christmas" to someone at the cash register at the grocery store, and they said "Happy Holidays" in return.  He then turned to them and said "I FIND THAT OFFENSIVE!" as though that just ended all arguments on the subject. …

That unpaid internship thing.

There's been some criticism levied against Emursive and/or Punchdrunk and/or Sleep No More this week because of a post advertising for unpaid internships.

For the record, I can't speak to the particulars of THIS internship, or how much anyone involved in the show is paid, or how hard they work (though it's very obvious it's a demanding show).  I have no firsthand knowledge of how they are treated, whether they are exploited needlessly or beyond the norm for the industry.  It's absolutely possible that they are treated more unfairly than they might at other companies or on other projects.

What I can speak to is my own experience and my own knowledge of theater and trying to build a career in the industry, particularly from the technical and design side of things.

I worked an unpaid internship.  Most people I know have, at some point, worked one.  They are so common in theater that it's practically expected you will take one at some point early in your career. …

Five Things: Updates from Dance Tech

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I'm in tech for the Choreographers' Showcase at ACC this week, and catching up on Thanksgiving thoughts.

Five experiences for which I've been immensely grateful this year:

1.  The weekend-long out-of-town trips that I took with Travis this year (to Dallas and Marfa) and also with Travis & Will (to Houston).  They're like miniature vacations for people who don't currently have the resources to take longer, actual vacations to far away places.  They pull me away from my routine and root me in the present.  Favorite memories include seeing the night sky at McDonald Observatory, standing inside a Turrell installation, running through the corridors of a Dan Flavin installation, eating Indian food on top of pizza, swimming at Balmorhea.

2.  Designing "Invisible Inc" for Hidden Room Theater in January, and having Daphne Mir fly out to visit and work as my amazing assistant.  Having a good friend staying with us for a week while also making my job easier and…

The House Was Quiet And The World Was Calm.

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My brain and body experience a fairly negative reaction to the way our world is structured today around media.  It's too easy for me to spend hours in front of a laptop, television, or both at the same time.  It's much easier to choose to do this rather than to spend the hours socializing in real life, listening to music while cooking good food, reading, or engaging in creative pursuits.  The fact that new kitty Ygritte wants to sit on my lap and/or cuddle with me 24/7 doesn't make this any easier, nor does the cold weather that finally hit Austin this week.  As a result of constant television, Facebook, Twitter, other social media, reading blogs, email, playing games online...my brain isn't quiet.  It's always jumping from one thought to another, one idea to another, without spending any time contemplating, meditating, or enjoying.

I don't know how I stumbled upon Wallace Steven's poem "The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm," but it made me …

How Games Ruined A Biology Career and Created a Lighting Designer.

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My experiences in gaming and my love for theater and design are inextricably related.  While I can remember when I first worked as an electrician on a show and first learned that lighting design as a field existed, I think that my interest in it began earlier than that, when I played Riven in my dorm room in college.  Back then I was a marine biology major.  Myst was the game that really got transitioned me away from the various Nintendo games played throughout high school (Super Mario Bros, Zelda, and most especially Star Tropics, which could actually be considered my first experience with intermedia storytelling...) to more story-based games played on my desktop computer (a Hewlett-Packard, if I remember correctly, which lasted me from 1996-2001).  But Riven really sparked something designer-y in me, I think.  There are so many beautiful places to explore and the lighting is key to the feel of all of them.



I've actually brought images from Riven and from Myst to the table as res…

In Which I Admit to Using Fog and Liking a 3D Movie.

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Trouble Puppet's production of "The Head" has teched, opened, and closed.  This was my second collaboration with Trouble Puppet, after 2011's "Riddley Walker."  Lighting Connor Hopkins's work always takes a mental adjustment for me - lighting puppets is just like lighting people!  Except they are shorter!  And handled by larger beings wearing black that you really don't want to see if at all possible!  But it's definitely worth it - Trouble Puppet is one of the best companies in town to design for, because the work is always good, always collaborative, always imaginative.

This review in Arts & Culture Texas made me smile - the lighting is briefly mentioned, with a positive reference to the "tasteful use of fog machine."  I know that lots of lighting designers use fog machines frequently, but I always hesitate before using it, questioning if it's really necessary for the piece.  I was approached earlier this year about designing …

Five Things: Updates from "The Head" Tech, part 2

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The entire Reilly-Bedard household is still in tech - opening night is tomorrow.  Limited brain space means another quick "five things" post this week.

1.  Myst is 20, and there's a great article about its legacy.  There's actually a much longer, more in depth blog post in my head about Myst, gaming, and its connection to my lighting design career and love of certain kinds of theater.  Keating sent this my way earlier this week and it took me back to freshman year, playing this game on a friend's Apple computer in Scott Hall at UNH.  Myst, for me, led to Riven, Zork: Nemesis and all the old Zork games, interactive fiction, eventually The Beast, which directly relates to my love of Sleep No More and new media art.  My roots as an artist extend back 20 years to that island. 

2.  Fantastic Fest is going on in Austin right now, and they're showing Escape From Tomorrow, and I'm in tech!  I've been waiting to see this for months.  While I'm so happy th…

Five Things: Updates From "The Head" Tech

I'm currently in tech for Trouble Puppet's production "The Head," which opens next Thursday, September 26.  You should see it, it's a ton of fun.  Five brief snippets from this week:

1.  Barbara Kingsolver's novel The Lacuna is just fantastic - art, politics, social justice, cultural identity.  Tomorrow is a full day off from the show, and supposedly it's going to be pouring rain outside, and I plan to spend the whole day indoors with cats and this book.

2.  The Kitten Formerly Known as Jon Snow is now the kitten named Ygritte.  Because she was a girl.  She now lives with us, indoors, and it's pretty awesome, except that both Travis and I are in tech for "The Head" right now, which leaves 5 month old ball-of-energy Ygritte at home with no one to entertain her.  We get home at 11:30pm from rehearsal each night, and she's all "OMG TIME TO PLAY!!" and we're all no, seriously, bed.  Never, ever bring a kitten home on purpose wh…

Creating in an Analog Way.

This morning on the drive in to work, I listened to the most recent Radiolab podcast, which was a brief overview of the band Dawn of Midi.  Their music began with these sort of unstructured improvisation sessions and grew into something completely different because the members of the band were listening to different kinds of music from all over the world.  That music seeped in to their work and their music evolved because of it (research!).  I was completely fascinated by their music before they got to the best part of the piece:

"I think that something is going on in the world right now, the last 10-15 years, you see it in a lot of fields right now...people doing things "in an analog way" that, ten years ago, would have been assumed absolutely impossible without the aid of technology.  You see it from big wave surfers who found out they could ride huge waves if they have jet skis to pull them into these waves, and now they're saying "hey wait a minute, we could…

Research partner.

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The big exciting news in my world this month has been that this little guy - or girl - has decided to live on our back deck.  Much to the chagrin of Sansa and Asha, I've been slowly getting him/her to trust me by sitting out on the back deck in the evenings while he/she eats.


We are slowly getting there.  And, as you can see, I have plenty of research and reading to be doing while I'm out there, building trust.


I am absolutely addicted to books.  Travis has made half-hearted attempts in the past to get me interested in having a Kindle, but honestly, I just want the actual, physical BOOK, the pages in my hands.  And an upcoming show involving a culture about which I know very little is the perfect excuse to add to my collection.  Uqalurait: An Oral History of Nunavut arrived today, and I'm waiting on others.

Call it multitasking - reading and research for a show while getting a kitten to trust me.  I hope that if he/she has a home, I'll be able to find the owner, thou…

Marfa Adventures.

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When I was in graduate school at UT Austin years ago, I was constantly hearing about how awesome Marfa was for seeing art.  It took nine years of living here for us to finally journey all the way out there to check it out.

Driving there all day on a Friday, it seemed like an unlikely place to see art, but having spent 99.99% of my time in Texas in the bigger cities it was great to finally see what other areas of this gigantic state look like.  After arriving on Friday we drove out to the McDonald Observatory to see whatever stars and planets they could show us that night (we saw Saturn!), and it's just stunning what getting away from light pollution and experiencing true darkness will do for your view of the night sky. 

On Saturday we took the full collection tour at the Chinati Foundation, which went from about 10:30am-4pm.  What struck me the most about this experience was the site-specificity involved in this collection - there was an intentionality to the placement of THIS art…

On Caring.

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We recently held our first design meeting for “Sila,” which is being produced at UNH in February 2014.Early design meetings equals a lot of discussion of themes, imagery, and this conversation went on for over two hours with a lot of material being discussed and ground being covered.
“Sila” by Chantal Bilodeau deals with Inuit issues surrounding climate change.Instead of just dealing with climate change from a western perspective, or even a purely scientific one, as I am used to, it delves into how the issue and the conversation surrounding it affects those living closest to the Arctic.I was studying to be a scientist before I became a theater artist, and probably would have gone into conservation biology had I stuck with it, so when it comes to dealing with this and many, many other issues I am extremely pro-science.Does the science support it?Are there peer-reviewed papers in reputable journals on the subject?Where is the information I’m currently receiving coming from – the media?A …