Filling the Stage with Lights
Lighting Designer, Choi Boyun (Theater & Film, ’06)
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There is a saying “Better late than never”. This means that it is better to do something even if it is late than to not do it at all. Choi Boyun (Theater & Film, ’06) took a roundabout trip to come to Hanyang (HYU) to study what she is truly passionate about. Her admittance to HYU made her a freshman for the third time. Still, Choi was fearless, in fact, happier than she had ever been. After graduating from HYU, Choi realized her dream to work in theater as a lighting designer (LD).
An Experienced Lighting Designer
According to Choi, theater is a part of reality that is remade on stage. It reflects real life, but the aim of theater is to look into certain perspectives. “If a set designer builds a physical environment on stage, it is the job of a LD to decorate it with different lightings according to the intent and direction of the entire play,” said Choi. To clearly deliver the message of that play, it is important for all of the stage setting to harmonize with one another, and it is essential for designers in each department to communicate thoroughly beforehand. “It is basically the last step or the finishing touch of a play, so it is more important to listen well to other directors, designers and actors,” explained Choi.
Thus, it is important for a LD to carefully observe the production process before he or she finalizes its lighting settings. When Choi first handed a script, she focuses on making notes on how she feels about the scenes in order to roughly plan what kind of mood she wants the lighting to have. The next step is to observe how actors move and act on changing scenes. Detailed sketches of a different scene is solely designed and determined by the LD. Thus, Choi writes a cue sheet that explains when and how lightings will be shown. Before a final rehearsal, the LD must decide which stage lighting to put in at the most desirable time and place.
Starting From the Scratch Once Again
“Since I was about 10 or 11-years-old, I thought I was interested in science and engineering because I spent quite a lot of time reading books about astronomy and playing around on the computer. I was able to handle computers better than most of my friends, and so I naturally thought science or computer-related majors would suit my aptitude,” recalls Choi. Her first campus life began in another university where she majored in astronomy. In her first year, Choi could soon see that this field was far from her expectations. It was more about pure science and was much more challenging to study if one did not have a strong interest. Thus, Choi decided to change to another major, mechanical engineering, in the same university. “As I was always a girl familiar with the computer, this new major seemed to suit me better than the last. Still, I was never fascinated with what I was learning,” said Choi.
In her third year, Choi left the school temporarily and had a chance to see a Japanese TV show that featured Takarazuka Revue, a Japanese all-female musical theater troupe. “When I saw it, I was immediately amazed by the extravaggent makeup and outfits on the actresses. It was grand and dramatic, like falling into a black hole without even noticing,” explained Choi. Choi recorded the TV program and watched it over and over again. Soon, she started to search and study everything about Takarazuka Revue. Choi become their No.1 Korean fan and also worked as a fan club manager. “After going back to school, there was no way I could fully concentrate on classes since the lecture hall turned into a stage and the professors became actors and actresses,” said Choi.
“When I start anything, it is essential to cover the very basics. This left me no choice but to apply for the S.A.T a third time. At the age of 26, I knew this would be my last chance to start from the beginning again, and this gave me stronger motivation and passion,” said Choi.
With People Who Share Dream, 'Stage Works'
Through HYU's various lectures, Choi experienced diverse activities in theater production from learning how to act to designing the stage among many others, which later helped her to understand the whole process of putting on a play. In her third year, Choi got her first chance to fully design and set up lighting for the stage. “It was in a theater called Daloreum Theater. It was a big theater which made my first challenge more arduous. After fully experiencing design to the setup, I thought I would never do this again until I witnessed how the stage turns out during the real performance,” said Choi.
To learn the field in more detail, she entered a separate academy and met her mentor and a team member. “Kim Chang-gi, my teacher is still one of the best LD in the field. He was very passionate about teaching me and my fellow students what he had accumulated through his career. Kim started a designers’ group with us which is called Stage Works,” said Choi. Since 2005, Stage Works provided designers for the theater stage and now serves as a group for those who hope to become a LD.
Choi is currently working as an active LD in the field while teaching and leading younger students both in HYU and in Stage Works. For about 9 years, she has been teaching HYU students in a weekly lecture called ‘Capston Design’. “I am always amazed at creative ideas and viewpoints that young students give to me. It is a good learning process for me as well,” said Choi. Choi finalized the interview by mentioning her goal as a LD. “I want to be a designer with longevity in the field. I enjoy teaching, but field work is where I belong. To remain there, my task is to constantly develop my senses so I can demonstrate artwork that is always fresh and new,” concluded Choi.
Yun Ji-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Kim Youn-soo
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