Quotidian’s PR assistant, Lauren Katz, chats with the artists of the production. Don Slater is QTC’s Resident Lighting Designer.
What was your first theatrical experience? People who know me well will find this hilarious. I was a dancer (that is not a misprint) in a suburban Philadelphia junior high school performance of The Boy Friend. I was also on the track team. About 3 weeks before the opening, I tore a muscle at a track meet, effectively ending my dancing career. I moved over to the lighting crew and I have been doing stage lighting for the past 50 years.
How did you begin designing in DC? In 1995 I met a couple of people who were involved with the Silver Spring Stage, a community theatre in Four Corners. I was asked to light a production of Quilters. After that experience, I became a regular lighting designer at SSS and started lighting for the British Players, another community theatre. I also met Jack Sbarbori and Stephanie Mumford. Three years later, I started lighting shows for Jack and Steph and I have been QTC’s Resident Lighting Designer ever since.
What appeals to you about the DC theatre community? The breadth and depth of the DC theatre scene is astonishing. There are about 80 professional companies of various sizes in the area and over 40 community theatres. Those numbers alone are amazing, but the fact that there can be so many organizations putting up really good stuff is what makes it so special.
Why did you choose to participate in The Lady with the Little Dog? How has the process been so far? As is usually the case, Steph asked me to light her show. We sat down to talk about the set and the scenes and the look she wants to create on the stage. For me, the process is not unlike painting a commissioned portrait. The set is my canvas and I have a palette of lighting instruments and colors. The challenge always lies in creating the portrait that is in the director’s mind’s eye.
Why should audiences come to see this play? Folks should see this play for the same reasons they see other QTC shows. We do attention to detail as well as or better than any other theatre in the area. It is what makes our productions special. We have some very talented actors in our shows, but Jack and Steph have a touch that takes it to another level. We hear many remarks from patrons at the end of a show comparing us to some very prestigious area companies and those remarks are almost universally complimentary.