For this edition of our 10-question interview we turn to Nat Reed, the Technical Director of SCERA Center for the Arts. I’ve always been impressed by the work ethic and sheer creative genius that Nat brings to productions and I was thrilled when he took on the role of Technical Director last year. He has designed for Mattel Inc, Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Mill Mountain Theatre (VA), A Noise Within Theatre (CA), and Miss Utah Scholarship Pageant. You may have seen his designs in Utah Valley University‘s production of “Charlotte’s Web” or Mortal Fools Theatre Project‘s productions of Frankenstein and The Glass Menagerie. Without further delay, here are Nat’s responses to our UTBA interview questions:
1. What is your title?
Technical Director, and also Set, Puppet and sometimes Lighting Designer
2. What show/shows are you currently working on?
Willy Wonka just finished. Annie Get Your Gun opens on July 30th, and Hairspray will open our Encore (indoor) season in September.
3. In one sentence, describe your job.
Coordinator of all things technical i.e. sets, props, lights, sound, for all SCERA theatrical productions.
4. What skills are necessary for a person in your position?
Creativity, patience, good humor, knowledge of power tools, and problem-solving among others. Not necessarily in that order.
5. What kind of training did you go through to get to your position?
Started as an apprentice carpenter at a regional theatre in Roanoke, VA when I was 16. Been on the job training for the last 20+ years. It also helps to expand into other related areas, from toy design to trade shows.
6. What was your first job in theater?
Apprentice carpenter at Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, VA.
7. Why do you think theater is important?
It gives us the chance to pretend. We grow up too fast, and sometimes lose contact with our imaginations. I look at my daughters at 4, 7 and 10 years old. They are constantly putting on shows. Either their own original productions, or an adaptation of something they may have seen. As adults, theatre gives us that same opportunity to pretend. To be the pirate, the cowboy or the princess.
8. What is your profession’s greatest challenge today?
Competing with $300 million blockbuster movies for audience dollars.
9. If you could change just one thing about the industry with the wave of a magic wand, what would it be?
That Utah, especially Utah County, audiences would be more willing to take a chance on shows. I have seen a lot of great productions that were poorly attended. And not for lack of advertising or marketing.
10. What advice would you give to someone who wanted to do what you do?
Learn all you can about lights, sound and scenery. Learn it from knowledgeable people who are doing it. Volunteer, find an internship. Don’t be afraid to safely experiment.