the life and times of a twenty year old designer

Archive for March 2011

New Music Monday!

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Sorry I missed last week. I didn’t have internet. To clue you in as to where I was…

This song defines the last week of my life. I’m working on a post to describe the incredible things that have been happening, but in the meantime, this song is the closest thing to doing it justice.

I present: Festival by Sigur Ros. One of the most beautiful musical journeys I’ve ever taken

I’ve confessed to being a lyrics person. For those of you who are, and may not connect to the Hopelandic tones, I urge you. Listen to the whole thing. Don’t skip ahead. Don’t stop halfway through. Just put your headphones on and close your eyes for ten minutes. Feel the meaning behind words you don’t understand. See the piece as a journey. I see it as mine.

For me, this song and its place in my heart can be summed up by these words:

Your grief will turn to joy. Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy. – John 17: 20,22

What a thing to hope for, isn’t it?


Written by Taylor Webster

March 21, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Posted in Music

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New Music (Tuesday!)

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Trying to get back on the bandwagon of sharing music as I find it, I’d like to post a song I found today. It’s been out for a couple of years. When I heard it today (I’ve been linking through Americana-Style music videos, wistfully imagining what life could be like if I was able to attend the Railroad Revival Tour I was struck by the honesty and simplicity of the lyrics. If you haven’t caught on yet. I’m a lyrics person.

There’s a darkness upon you that’s flooded in light
And in the fine print they tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
And it flies by day and it flies by night
And I’m frightened by those that don’t see it

There was a dream and one day I could see it
Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it
And there was a kid with a head full of doubt
So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out

I’m also really big on hope. What I believe is key to remember is that there are those who don’t see the darkness, those who are filled with doubt and see their dreams in cages. But there are also those who flood the darkness in light, demand the birds be free, and fight despair at all costs. There are two sides to every story. A battle is constantly being fought. It’s easy to forget that when you’re in the middle of one, but it is really, vitally true.

I present Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise, by The Avett Brothers:

Written by Taylor Webster

March 8, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Posted in Music

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Goodbye Cachucha, Fandango, Bolero!

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It’s been a while. It’s been an opera. Here’s the conclusion to that particular story:

In my mind, the highest note in Gilbert and Sullivan’s entire opera The Gondoliers, comes with the happy and convenient conclusion. Marco and Guiseppe, the gallant Gondolieri, have discovered that they are absolved of their royal duties and free to return to their lives and wives in Venice.

Once more gondolieri, both skilful and wary,

Free from this quandary, contented are we. Ah!

From Royalty flying, our gondolas plying,

And merrily crying our “premé,” “stali!” Ah!

So good-bye, cachucha, fandango, bolero —

We’ll dance a farewell to that measure —

Old Xeres, adieu — Manzanilla — Montero —

We leave you with feelings of pleasure!

That is much how I feel upon completing this design. Having been thrust from my humble roots into a situation where my qualifications frequently did not match the demands of the task, I now return gladly to the life of a humble but cheerful student. I extend my most sincere thanks to the technical director, the charge artist, and their assorted crews and teams, as well as my design advisor and the opera director for all of their support , and even more so for their incredible patience on this journey.

Here she is! This is the set on the first night of tech rehearsals. I’ll upload the final pictures as soon as I have them

But LOOK at that backdrop…

I learned far more in the design process for this show than I have in any class or on any previous show. Somehow I feel as though I am continually learning by being pushed off of ledges, without having spent months learning how to craft a nifty hang glide or parachute device. The completed set is by no means perfect. But I’m satisfied with the work I’ve done.

Here are some (but by no means all) of the things I’ve learned about design in the process.

  • Backdrops are labor intensive for the designer and even more so for the paint team. Attention to detail is imperative.  They also look pretty snazzy in the concert hall.
  • The designer’s work isn’t over until the show opens. Scenic designers attend technical rehearsals with just as careful an eye as lighting designers and directors, carefully examining the set from all angles to ensure that nothing has been left out.
  • Scenic designers generate a lot of paperwork. A. Lot.  From the basic groundplans of the space to technical draftings of each scenic element to cartoons (line drawings) and renderings of backdrops, floor, and scenery for the paint crew, to research images for every imaginable detail, the information which a scenic designer is expected to supply is vast.
  • Attention to detail is the key to elevating a design beyond the ordinary. My advisor, much to my discomfort at the time, frequently pointed out inconsistencies or weaknesses in architectural motifs, color palette, weight and balance, spatial arrangement, and the general look and feel of Venice. And as I’ve listened to her, and watched the addition of detail shape the set beyond the block shapes I had imagined, I’ve realized just how absolutely right she is. Detail. Research. Detail.
  • Effective communication with the shops is vital. The ingenuity and resourcefulness of the technical director and charge artist are great gifts to a beginning designer, but only if the designer has the sense to ask for help and clearly communicate their vision for the show.
  • And finally, design is incredibly rewarding. To see a finished set which looks oddly similar to the awkward computer model you pieced together two months before, to know that your ideas were the basis for creating a world in which magic can happen, and to know that the incredible people who put the show together is an unbelievable feeling.

At final dress, my advisor asked if I would like to try and design another set at CSU. My gut response? “Ask me in a couple months.” This show pushed me to the brink in a way no other academic experience has. It was hard. Difficult. Challenging. Frustrating. Tear-inducing. And ultimately? Amazing.

Never before have I been so acutely aware of just how much I do not know. It was an incredibly humbling experience. I won’t be able to coast through on what I already know. If I want to continue, I suppose I’m going to have to be willing to learn a bit. I think I’m alright with that.

So yeah. Maybe not starting tomorrow. But next year.

Let’s do it again.

Written by Taylor Webster

March 8, 2011 at 2:00 am

Posted in Design

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