Shockley Shines as ETSU Student Lighting Designer | Education
For East Tennessee State University student Ian Shockley, long before the director called “camera, action,” there were lights.
A love for acting and, in particular, a deep passion for lighting design brought the Jonesborough resident to ETSU after graduating with honors from David Crockett High School in 2019.
Now in its freshman year, Shockley is set to make its debut. Next week, when ETSU’s Drama and Dance Department presents the drama “Straight White Men,” it will mark Shockley’s first major show as a lighting designer.
And he can’t wait.
“Lighting greatly affects the mood of the room,” Shockley said. “For ‘Straight White Men,’ the setting is a family room in suburban Chicago. It’s also Christmas and there are a lot of lighting situations to deal with.
When creating a design plot for a show, Shockley says the first step is to dig into the script. What is given? What is needed based on the room’s actions?
“It’s about exposure and getting the vibe and feeling of the show while supporting the actors on stage,” he said.
“The space we work in is amazing,” Shockley said, referring to the Bert C. Bach Theater, an intimate, state-of-the-art black box facility inside the new Martin Center for the Arts. The Bach Theater opened in the fall of 2021 and “Straight White Men” will be the second show to be performed there.
“The black box space is very flexible and offers great creative freedom.”
Shockley specializes in theater design/production and gained various experiences during his time at ETSU. In addition to working in the Stage Shop and Costume Shop, he was the lighting programmer for last fall’s production of “Men on Boats.” He is also the technical director of the Patchwork Players, a student-run theater organization that produces shows and programs throughout the year.
“One of the greatest things about the Technical Theater program at ETSU is that you get a lot of one-on-one help,” he said. “Not only do you have access to this wonderful creative space, but you also have the chance to be mentored by talented teachers like Melissa Shafer.”
“Ian came to ETSU with a solid foundation in stage lighting production through his active involvement in local community theater lighting,” said ETSU Professor Shafer. “What the Department of Theater and Dance at ETSU was able to offer Ian was its focus on lighting aesthetics. ‘Straight White Men’ is his first collegiate lighting design and , with the opening of the Martin Center for the Arts, Ian has state-of-the-art equipment to work and learn in, much like a chef working with the finest knives or a painter with the finest brushes. joy to see him evolve as a designer.
Shockley has done design work for other theaters and says her plans after graduation include working for a regional theater or performing arts company, or maybe a touring show.
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