Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Meet the Designer: Catherine DiGirolamo (ANIMALS)

Catherine DiGirolamo A graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), Cate is a Production Manager and Lighting/Scenic Designer who has worked for Gate Theatre Notting Hill, Royal Court Theatre, Almeida Theatre, Hightide Festival Theatre, and Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, and more recently CAP21 in New York. She is currently the Production Manager for UglyRhino Productions.
  • You’ll be designing both lights and set for our upcoming production of Animals for the New York International Fringe Festival. Can you tell us some of your initial thoughts about the piece? 
What was great about the first table read was getting an idea how fast paced and intense a lot of the play is. It poses a lot of interesting moral questions, bit is also quite funny. These characters and the situations they deal with are very real. Because of that, the set needed to be something that could function for the action but not take anything away from, or interfere with, what is happening in the story. 

  • Due to the nature of Fringe (multiple plays performing in a single theatre; a fast turn around time between each production; etc.), there are some constraints in terms of what a designer can accomplish with lights and set. How do you like to approach challenges such as these?
I try not to think about it at first and focus on what I want to achieve creatively and what the play requires. Once I have a clear concept, it’s just a matter of making it work within the constraints, which is equally challenging and fun. There are several locations and transitions in the play, so the design already had to be versatile and easy to transition. Lighting will play a larger role in the overall design, though I won’t get a chance to really see what lighting is available before tech. That is the biggest challenge. It’s important to go in with clear ideas and several options for how to accomplish them. 
  • When did you know that you wanted to be a designer? Who or what do you consider to have been your biggest creative influences to date? Why? 
I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and being close friends with, many talented designers, directors, actors, filmmakers, and artists who have all been great influences. I have also worked on many different projects in a variety of roles and just like being involved in the process in any way. I can’t say for sure when I decided that I wanted to design, but I trained in London and that was the first time I felt that it was something I could pursue. 

  • What is your favorite part of the creative process? 
I don’t know that I really have a favorite part. Each project is so unique. I love seeing the progression from the first read through to the stage. Working on Animals, in particular, has been great being able to sit in rehearsals and work closely with the director and playwright, and see how the actors take on these roles. I guess the most fun really comes at tech and seeing everything come together in the space. And I love playing around with lights. 
  • Are you working on any additional projects at the moment? Care to share with us? 
I production manage for UglyRhino Productions in Brooklyn. We’re currently working on our Micro-Season, opening mid-August, which features two new musical plays, parties, and live bands. One play is an adaptation of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, which I’m also lighting, and the other play is a rock concert/theatrical experience called Glamdromeda. See for more information.

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