Manifesting a moment into a melody. Transforming a tragedy into a staged trilogy. Penning the pinnacle of a movement into poetic justice. When art and life intersect, what results can be powerful–and even supersede the artist’s original intent. The characters in How to Catch Creation grasp this notion with an intensity similarly reflected by the visionaries behind the production. I had the opportunity to ask a few of these artists about their process of concept-to-creation, relative to their respective canvases.

Director Niegel Smith

Niegel Smith (Director)
“My work alongside my collaborators allows a play to breathe with the heightened energy of life. So I consider the life around me while thinking about the play–considering what time of day a scene might take place, or the rhythm of the language in a lover’s exchange. I believe that you should be able to pause a production at any moment and see a compelling stage composition. I also love to immerse myself in music, and so much of this play is about musicality, repeated themes and a symphony of sounds and voices. The production has to rock and flow, but I also need to find moments of pacing–when the play will groove, when it will climax, when will there be moments of simultaneity?”

Allen Hughes (Lighting Designer)
“Lighting is sometimes one of the last elements thought of during a production. This is because it is ephemeral. It is not easy to talk about because it is invisible—until it hits something. I listen and organize my way into a production. By
reading and analyzing the play, and talking to the director about approach, I learn the needs of the production. One of the functions of lighting is selective visibility. Experience and my sense of theater tell me the performers are the most important deliverers of the story; we mostly want to see them.”

Justin Ellington (Composer)

Composer Justin Ellington

“I tend to approach each project like I’ve never done it before. It allows me to make mistakes—and in the imperfection, I find the gems. I riff off of the error. I walk around and absorb people and places; as I am more of a sponge than a creative. If I’m composing a piece set in the 60s, it is immersed in what’s going on at that time. Protest music in the 1960s turned people into activists. I turn artists and activists into my peers; I don’t want to copy anyone’s music. Today’s music has a lot of similar threads. It’s not necessarily copying, it’s more people are giving the world what it wants. I feel comfortable just living in the 60s [in terms of artistry] and being honest in my output–the instrumentation, tempo, how music extinguishes and starts fires.”

Jenny Mannis (Costume Designer)
“I catch creation through observation and research. I’m always people watching: on the bus, on the street. I notice people and I try to guess who they are—and what they love or hate or want. I like to read, and I always have a picture in my head for the characters in books. And I’m always drawing. Sometimes I discover it on the page, but the main thing is to constantly be looking–the world will always surprise you.”

Sketches by Jenny Mannis for HOW TO CATCH CREATION

Joy R. Lee is the 2018 Communications Apprentice for Goodman Theatre.