Lighting (and learning) with ETC and Princeton University

Lighting (and learning) with ETC and Princeton University

When the theatre team at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts were tasked with specifying the technical needs of the new Lewis Arts complex on campus, it was clear ETC would be a major part of the picture, both on and off the stage.

As we mentioned in a previous story, the Lewis Arts complex was completed in 2017 and houses the academic programs in Dance, Theater, Music Theater, and the Princeton Atelier, as well as additional rehearsal and performance space for the Department of Music and exhibition spaces for the Program in Visual Arts. In that story, we talked to Lighting and Stage Supervisor Matt Pilsner who detailed the installation of BluesSystem running lights in two of the new performance spaces. But when you have as many rehearsal and performance spaces as the Lewis Arts complex, you need reliable, state-of-the-art lighting control systems onstage as well.

“From the get-go we knew we wanted all LED in the performance spaces,” says Matt. Jane Cox, Broadway lighting designer and director of the Program in Theater at Princeton, had a lot of input into the design of the performance spaces, and the latest and greatest technology was a must. “Part of Jane’s reasoning,” explains Matt, “was that because the Lewis Center does not offer a major in theatre, dance or visual arts, we needed to attract students from all over campus with our gear.”

ETC helped answer the call. Within the Lewis Arts complex is the Wallace Dance Building and Theater, which houses the Wallace Black Box Theater, the Hearst Dance Theater, the Roberts Dance Studio, the Donald G. Drapkin Studio, and the Light Lab (where Cox teaches lighting design)—all of which feature lighting and control solutions from ETC.

“I mentor the students when it comes to programming and get the consoles ready for them to hop on and get started,” explains Matt. “They design and program the shows all themselves. The Eos Magic Sheets are incredibly helpful for this – they can just use the touch screens and go.”

The future of the performing arts depends on students like those at Princeton feeling the magic and pull of the theater. ETC is proud to be in colleges across the country, helping ignite the spark of creativity in the designers, programmers, and performers of tomorrow.

Photos by Hope VanCleaf

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