Drama student takes top honors for Showcase 2021 poster on lighting design – one of many roles she’s played – URI News

KINGSTON, RI – November 30, 2021 – As a freshman Audrey Visscher knew she wanted to try on as many theater hats as possible. So she made a list.

In the middle of her final year at the University of Rhode Island, Visscher ticked off the value of a play program’s jobs. Even with the pandemic reducing the number of URI theater productions, she worked as a team, costume team. , painter, lighting and sound board operator, sound designer, house manager, assistant manager, director – to name a few.

“I really enjoy being a part of every show that we put on here at URI, in any capacity,” says Visscher, a theater and film media specialist at Piscataway, New Jersey. “I’m working on having as many different roles on productions as possible before I graduate.”

This fall, Visscher’s list was checked when she was selected as the lighting designer for Lauren Gunderson’s “Silent Sky”, URI Theater’s first production of the 2021-2022 season. His work on the show was also the basis for a poster that won top presenter honors in the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities category in the 2021 Showcase of Undergraduate Research, Scholarly, and Creative Work.

” I enjoyed it. I only wish the showcase was longer because I had so much to say, ”said Visscher, whose presentation included an array of sample lights and his lighting design project to explain the design process. lighting. “I walked into the storefront just excited to talk about the lights. I did not expect a price.

The role of lighting design is somewhat simple: to illuminate the actors, convey the mood, set the time and place of the stage. But the job is much more demanding, she says, including extensive readings of the script, breaking down and understanding the lighting needs of each scene, creating keys for the color and direction of the lights, creating a rough draft of it. where the lights will hang, and make sure the design works.

Visscher was introduced to lighting as a light board operator last fall for “Miss Nelson is Missing!” And as a master electrician student for Fall 2019 She Kills Monsters. A design and theater directing student, she immediately knew she wanted to add light to her touch-sensitive approach. asset.

Knowing that lights would play a vital role in “Silent Sky,” a true story about female astronomers who made inroads in mapping the stars, she applied to become an assistant lighting designer. But the department offered him the lead designer job instead.

“I had never designed a light and it seemed extremely intimidating, but I was also delighted that they offered me this job,” she says. “And I knew we had a really good support system.”

Visscher had taken a lighting design course with Assistant Professor James Horban, and he served as his mentor for the play. Horban accompanied her throughout the process. She also collaborated with the show’s director, Tracy Liz Miller, and set designer, Renee Surprenant Fitzgerald.

“As the first lighting design, I was impressed with Audrey’s ability and determination to stay focused throughout the process,” said Horban. “Creating a lighting design takes a lot of mental stamina, because you have to quickly switch between an artistic eye and technical prowess, and Audrey was able to meet that challenge. “

One of Visscher’s proudest moments of his conception came when the main character of the story, Henrietta Leavitt, and her sweetheart, Peter, began to bond and can envision a future together. In a dream sequence, they sail on an ocean liner under the stars. But the daydream is shattered when Henrietta’s sister bursts in to tell her that their father had a stroke.

“At that point, I had to break everything. I had to shatter their dream. I had to unravel their secrets and bring the scene back to reality, but hard, ”says Visscher. “I immediately turned off all the main lights. And we had little chandeliers hanging everywhere – we called them planets – and each one went out within seconds of each other, which made the scene overwhelming. “

“Silent Sky” also gave Visscher another opportunity. Although she had worked on almost every stage production in the department and on many student plays during her three-plus years, she had not worked on a full show from start to finish and had not participated in the rehearsal process. She acquired this experience in her double role as assistant to the staging of the play.

“It will definitely help me as a director,” she says. “No director is going to graduate and say, ‘I’d love to be a director, but I’ve never been to rehearsals for a show. “”

As the pandemic has reduced her theater opportunities, Visscher has been busy catching up. This month, she will participate in the props for the production of “Clue: On Stage”. In April, she will tick another big box as assistant director for “The Wizard of Oz”.

Her many backstage roles have fueled her various interests and introduced her to new ones. When she first started at URI, Visscher was primarily interested in stage design. Now, she has experienced many other design opportunities, which also provided her with the knowledge to help her communicate effectively with designers as a director.

Beyond graduation, Visscher considers the career options to be as plentiful as the jobs on his checklist.

“Between conception and directing, theater and cinema, I’m sure I’ll jump all over the place, keeping my freshness every time I take on a new role,” she says. “URI theater offers so many opportunities and forces you to step out of your comfort zone. Unlike most conservatory programs, the URI encourages and even asks students to experience something outside of their chosen concentration in order to fully understand and appreciate theater. It’s a great helping hand to find a niche you never thought of. “

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