SPOTLIGHT ON… Elisha L. Griego
- BFA in Theatre Design and Technology, Univeristy of Colorado-Boulder, 2001.
- MFA in Drama-Lighting Design, University of California-Irvine, 2005.
PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE:
- Technical Director/Production Manager/Lighting Designer at CSU Long Beach, Dance Department.
- Producer/Production Manager/Co-Production Designer/Company Manager for The Rascals: Once Upon a Dream. Broadway and North American Tour.
- Associate Production and Lighting Designer, bu-who Entertainment (mainly concert touring).
- Architectural Lighting Designer, Fox+Fox Design (retail, residential, institutional, landscape).
- Freelance Lighting Designer and/or Stage Manager for Colorado Ballet, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Ballet Repertory Theatre, South Coast Repertory, Theatre Tulsa, Hunger Artists Theatre Company, Theatre of NOTE, RangeView Productions and more.
Producer with Tactical Manoeuvre (concert touring, art installations, architectural, immersive experiences).
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST LIVE EVENT JOB AND HOW DID YOU GET IT?
Running sound and lighting for summer rentals in my high school theatre. My tech theatre teacher recommended me.
HOW HAS YOUR THEATRICAL EXPERIENCE PREPARED YOU FOR WORK IN THE WIDER LIVE EVENT INDUSTRY?
It’s been invaluable. I worked in and studied theatre exclusively until graduating with my MFA, so all of my core work ethic and skill set are attributable to my theatrical background. This includes:
-Working within a (sometimes limited) budget
-Ability to collaborate with persons of various backgrounds and experience
-Drafting and rendering
-Ability to understand and analyze design within just about any context
-Efficient research skills
The list goes on and on! But the one that keeps leaping out in my mind is an intensely driven and committed work ethic.
HOW HAVE YOUR EXPERIENCES WORKING IN LIVE EVENTS CHANGED HOW YOU APPROACH YOUR THEATRICAL WORK?
Event work has allowed me to think outside of the box when working on theatrical productions. In events, you usually have a totally blank slate from which to design. You, in essence, design your own theatre every time you produce a new event.
Coming from a theatre background, it was difficult to realize that I could create my own hanging positions for lights in places where they didn’t exist, or stage a show with the audience on stage and the performance in the house. Event production has really helped me to break out of the fairly rigid mold that theatre can sometimes impose.
WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST (GOOD OR BAD) ABOUT WORKING IN THE LIVE EVENT INDUSTRY?
A pleasant surprise has been that live events almost universally pay better than theatrical gigs! They also generally have afforded me the ability to travel for work. There is a greater job mobility within the live event industry–it is relatively common to be a designer one day and a producer the next.
Some of the less pleasant surprises include having clients who are absolutely unfamiliar with collaborative process, or compromise, or generally speaking in creative terminology.
Occasionally the projects can be boring, (at least in my mind), especially the more “corporate” events. But then again, some of the projects are wildly exciting (live concert touring, shows on the Empire State Building).
ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR THEATRICAL TECHNICIANS, DESIGNERS OR STAGE MANAGERS WHO ARE LOOKING TO GET INTO EVENT WORK?
Go for it! I have found the event industry to be incredibly welcome to people with theatrical backgrounds. Be willing to explore totally new ways of doing things, new equipment, new terminology for the same gear. There is a somewhat steep learning curve, but you are already equipped with the tools necessary to learn quickly and efficiently. Be friendly, accomodating and professional. Don’t say no to things right off the bat, even if they seem impossible. You may be surprised at how possible they are with a different outlook.
ANY OTHER THOUGHTS OR COMMENTS YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE REGARDING YOUR WORK IN THE THEATRE & LIVE EVENT INDUSTRIES?
I honestly never really thought of theater and live events as separate industries. As a theatre student, my dream job was originally to be a resident designer in a repertory company. As I got older, I thought that maybe Cirque du Soleil was the right venue for me, and then that turned in to concert touring. It’s a constantly evolving goal. I’ve just always thought of all of the live event industries as some version of “theatre” and I really do believe that they are!