We Need Some Light: A Behind the Scenes Interview with Colin Skip Wilson

Curtains Up: Songs of Love and Laughter is only two weeks away from it’s final edit for broadcasting! Filming, however, has wrapped up for this show. So while we wait, let’s talk about Colin Skip Wilson, who is a senior at UVU and already a veteran lighting designer. Curtains Up is his senior project and he has made a design that is sure to blow your mind once you see it. So I asked Colin a few questions about lighting design to get a behind the scenes look at his process.

When you start a lighting design, what’s the first step you take?

I read the script. Whenever I get told that I’m put on a show I read the script, whether or not I’m familiar with the show. I’ll read it two to three times before I even meet with the director. The first time is just to get a first impression of the script. The second and third, I make notes of the different lighting moments. I also notice the characters and their arc and how they interact with the other characters in the world.

While designing for Curtains Up: Songs of Love and Laughter, what was the biggest hurdle to get over?

Not receiving a script at all. When I was told that I was designing this show they were like, “We don’t have a script. There’s no name. We just have an idea of what we want.” Just students singing musical theatre songs. No concept. There wasn’t anything to go off of. That was the biggest hurdle. Once we solidified the songs and the theme of the show it smoothed out quite nicely.

How does lighting design collaborate with other areas of design?

I also did the scenic design for this show. With lighting design, you want to light the actors and our goal is to see the actors. You also want to light the world that the actors are in which also pertains to scenic. Scenic design does a good job of establishing physical locations and then lighting can emphasize the mood and help establish location. In terms of costumes I need to know what they’re wearing because the lights change the look of the clothes. Designers want to create a cohesive world that the actors live in, so it’s important to collaborate together so that the world comes alive.

What is your favorite element of your design?

It’s the chandeliers. I’ve had this idea of doing something like this for quite some time. A couple years back I explored YouTube and came across an Adele performance where behind her was a giant wall of lamps that interacted with the songs. It’s always been something I wanted to do: hanging lights or chandeliers. It presented itself as an opportunity with the concept of the show and I love the idea. It gives it more character. It adds another level of depth to what the performers are doing.

You can see Curtains Up: Songs of Love and Laughter, and Colin’s lovely chandeliers, when it is available to broadcast April 15-17.