There is so much to learn and know about theater, and just as one begins thinking about the things they know about it, they know how little they do. Everyone loves going to a play and exploring the universe a playwright has written. It’s beautiful to see the way actors live in that world for about two hours, and how we find that constructed world so convincing that we don’t want to leave it either. And the director’s work is always applaudable for making that small trip to another world so soothing. But this time, we want to think about the work of theatre technicians and designers. More specifically, the work of an incredible theatre technician and designer: Kenzie Bowes.
NY Art Life: Thank you so much for coming to this interview. We’re very excited to speak with you. Please tell us a little bit about what a theatre technician/designer usually does.
Kenzie Bowes: It’s my pleasure to be here. I’m always excited to speak about theater! As a theatre technician and designer, I’m mostly in charge of designing a set for a play or taking care of the technical aspects of the set. For instance, sometimes I design the lighting for a play, which means that I design the way the light looks throughout a full-length production. It may sound simple, but it is actually a collection of many decisions that influence the entire play and the overall experience for the audience. For instance, where the lights are installed, how they are focused on each scene, what the values and hues are, and how intense they can be. There are countless important decisions that are closely tied to the script.
NY Art Life: Wow, that is magnificent! What drew you to work as a theatre technician and/or designer?
Kenzie Bowes: I’ve always had a fascination with light and the way it affects people. I think that we have a direct and deep connection to it, as it is an essential element of our lives. And most importantly, it has a divine influence on art. I’m truly passionate about the way lighting can become a notable aspect of a play. It makes characters more prominent; it can highlight a moment throughout the script. I think that when lighting is designed according to a script, it can truly make a play more memorable as it enhances the emotional connection of an audience to the theatre. And growing up, I’ve always been passionate about theatre. But I never saw myself becoming an actress. I just think that I’m more artistically involved in creating the universe of a play and constructing the technical aspects of it that can draw the audience in even deeper than before.
NY Art Life: That’s incredible. How was your experience designing lighting, and other elements of tech in theatre?
Kenzie Bowes: It was always amazing. One of my best experiences was being a technical director and designing both lighting and sound. It’s not tricky but it is challenging at times to be in charge of both. I was the technical director for the play DSRIP in Alberta, which was a very enriching experience for me. Then, I worked on a few festivals where I oversaw lighting again, which was very different, and I’ll get into that in more detail later. I was the head of lights and lighting technician for a play called God of Carnage, and then I designed lighting for She Kills Monsters. Both happened during the same month, and I was ecstatic to be focusing on two different projects with very different lighting and theme, which influenced the way I approached my work. It’s amazing because of how related they are yet how different each element is, but I enjoyed spending time on those projects. And then, I worked on another project called Monolith, and the lighting design was very intense there too.
NY Art Life: That’s amazing. What did you think of working on lighting for festivals?
Kenzie Bowes: I was very excited about that experience. As I mentioned, I’m passionate about creating lighting that an audience will look at and enjoy, and festivals are similar to a play in that regard. The only thing different is that there isn’t a script or a story. It’s a widely different reaction from people, but the lighting for festivals and award shows is magnificently elegant and known for its beauty. Therefore, as a lighting designer and technician, I always enjoyed working on the venues and being able to create something that people will walk into and appreciate. I was a technician at Calgary Fringe Festival for three years in a row in Alberta. I loved how many people from the theater were present too but in a different light.
NY Art Life: What an amazing experience. And how is designing lighting different than managing and directing your crew in adjusting the lights?
Kenzie Bowes: It’s all very exciting. Even when the head of lights, I like to join in on basic tasks such as hanging and focusing lights to be present with my crew in technical work. But when I’m the head of lights, I’m also designing most of the lighting but giving the instructions on how the lighting will be arranged and set up, just not doing every step all by myself. It’s an amazing way to include others in my creative work, and I admire it very much. And now, I’m an associate at Citadel Theatre, and I’m always amazed at watching how these works unfold.
NY Art Life: Do you have any advice for people looking into technical work in theatre?
Kenzie Bowes: I’d encourage artists who are interested in the work to always study the work of others, not only in books and history but by going to the theatre as well. There’s nothing like real light in a play that you can see because it stays with you in a different way that is hard to describe. It’s a magnificent feeling. And that inspiration is something you can always draw from in your work.
NY Art Life: Ny Art Life is grateful for sharing your artistic experience with our readers. Thanks for the time you have dedicated to us.