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Why I Light Student Entries

Welcome to #WhyILight

These student entries are listed in no particular order. Competition ends November 13th, 2020. For official rules, click here.

Entrant: Luke Eisner, Freshman at Northern Kentucky University

Radium Girls, Notre Dame Academy, October 2019

“When designing the fall play of my senior year, I spent long nights reading the script, drawing plots, and writing cues in my script in order to create the best work that I have made to this day. I encountered new challenges like forcing myself to break the normal conventions of lighting, teaching new crews on how to hang and focus lights, and how to balance learning lines with writing cues. Upon seeing the reactions of the audience and my directors, and how moved they were, I realized that this #WhyILight.”


Entrant: Rianne Lindsey, Senior at Point Park University

Good Grief, Point Park University’s Pittsburgh Playhouse, October 2019

“Good Grief was a huge test for myself professionally and personally. It was my first lighting plot that would be hung, focused, and seen by an audience. Unfortunately, my plot wasn’t great at first, and I found myself fighting to prove that not only could I be trusted to adjust it, but essentially re-write all of the cues in two days. With the help of my ME, we pulled it off and I’m still so proud. The final product moved my director and the audience to tears, reminding me of the power lighting has, and why I love it so much.”


Entrant: Will Howell, Senior at Homeschool, Greer, South Carolina

Wedding Venue

“Here’s some shots of a wedding I did lighting for recently! This was a really fun gig, because I was able to implement my largest rig ever used on any show I’ve ever done! This was a special and memorable experience because I learned all about programming and designing lighting for a full band and a special event! As a musician lighting has always been special to me because it’s truly a VISUAL instrument, and I love incorporating the same nuances as I do in music (like dynamics, arranging, and vibe) to lighting!”

Entrant: Ian VanDusen, University of Missouri – Kansas City

Inexplicable Connections, UMKC, February 2020

“I light the stage to be the extension of the performers. This piece to me was my best work today for dance because I felt one with the piece and not a separate design. Challenges that I overcame was timings and keeping it clean.”


Entrant: Alex Alegria, Sophomore at University of Arizona

The Big Meal, The Temple of Music & Art – Cabaret Theatre, December 2019

“My submission to the #WhyILight challenge is from Winding Road Theater’s production of “The Big Meal” by Dan LeFranc, produced in December of 2019 in Tucson, Arizona. I felt this was my best work because I overcame several challenges and the audience reception was great. A main challenge was the staging because it was produced in-the-round in a small space. Another main challenge was the play itself as there were no scenes, only “moments,” and the playwright states that obvious technical elements are to be avoided, in which our solution was to utilize lighting to represent progression of time.”

Entrant: Haley Brown, University of Georgia MFA candidate, 2nd year

Godspell, Georgia Perimeter College – Clarkston, February 2020

The joy of lighting design is the unique expression that is born from the collaboration of an artistic team utilizing both art and technology to tell a story and is #WhyILight. Godspell brought the mega-church experience to the stage while telling a secular story of love and community. While there were challenges, like coordinating with projections that were being drawn live, they were overcome through teamwork. We were able to not only rock out, but craft more intimate moments for the stage. My current show is always my favorite, but Godspell comes in a close second.”

Entrant: Hannah S. Wolland, Southern Methodist University MFA candidate, 1st year

Choreolab – Paralysis, University of Buffalo, Spring 2019

“ChoreoLab was the most rewarding experience of my undergraduate career. Each of the eleven pieces were lit by a different designer, as part of our Advanced Lighting course. Challenges included incorporating lighting with my first projection design, and working with white costumes. In addition, as the concert’s production stage manager, I coordinated a team of students and faculty of 100+ people. This experience solidified #WhyILight: the satisfaction of a successful collaboration, and the pure joy of incorporating light with movement and music.”

Entrant: Hope Debelius, Junior at Point Park University

Water by the Spoonful, Point Park University, November 2020

Designing Water by the Spoonful was a huge step for me as a designer. Not only was it my first main stage production at school, but I also had to combine my knowledge of lighting for theatre with my lesser knowledge of lighting for film to design a production that was going to be filmed due to COVID-19. Designing this show was a challenge that brought so much learning and growth, and it reminded me that we can still evoke powerful emotion and change within our audience even if we are not in the same room, and that is #whyIlight.”

Entrant: Edward Hansen, Senior at University of Southern California

Amsterdam, Scene Dock Theatre, October 2019

Amsterdam is the best and most challenging performance I’ve lit because, as post-dramatic theater, we weren’t utilizing linear storytelling as in traditional theater. The lighting was designed to evoke a visceral and individualized response for each audience member. It was a challenge to break the mold and make bold choices like incorporating an interactive grid of flying orbs. I’m incredibly proud of Amsterdam and my passion for theater comes from using light to create collaborative, immersive environments. #WhyILight.”


Entrant: Jeremy Burd, Freshman at State University of New York – Purchase

Cats, Bay Shore Senior High, March 2020

Cats was my HS senior musical. I had fun loading it in and programming the show. My TD put me in charge and let me budget the lighting for the show, run the load in, and I programmed the show. I learned so much from that experience. The hardest part of the show was figuring out how I was going to program it, so I downloaded ETC Nomad and got to work! It was so fun! The one thing I love about this industry is that I get to work with my friends – and that’s #whyIlight. Can’t stop, won’t stop!”


Entrant: Rachel Lauren, Texas State University MFA candidate, 1st year

Frankenstein, Michigan State University, October 2019

Frankenstein is my best work to date because I felt that it was a true collaboration between the design team. The team consisted of all seniors and was a chance to show what we had learned in the past 4 years. It was so exciting to create a world together that was cohesive, visually striking, and served the needs of the play. The biggest challenge for me was conceptualizing an idea that best suited the internal battle between Frankenstein and The Creature. Lighting became such a huge part in showing the true power of The Creature.” #WhyILight


Entrant: Yajayra Franco,

The Theory of Relativity, The Foothill Performing Arts Council, 2018

“How lighting takes you to a whole other world or atmosphere with just its properties of intensity, color, movement, etc. is fascinating to me. It was what drew me into the world of lighting design, how I myself can help create a world and help others immerse into it. To get to this final design I encountered difficulty in attempting to light the actor’s area. I realized that the beam’s throw distance to the acting area spilled onto the audience. I believe this is my best work because I put my best effort into replicating the actor’s mental space and emotion. This moment really portrays her emotions of heartbreak and betrayal. It was the first time I experimented with backlighting, and I am proud of the end result.”



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