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  • Writer's pictureSparling Designs

A busy year... and it's only February

This business is always a game of "feast or famine". One day you're working in 4 different theaters on 4 different projects, and the next you're scanning the classifieds for dog walking gigs. My colleagues and I have MANY conversations about how to balance our work load, how many shows is too many shows, and how to pay the bills. Personally, I've had a big learning curve figuring this out now that I'm a full-time freelancer. Managing my time and finances is a constant uphill battle, and I'm still discovering new and better ways of working.

The last two months have been filled with rewarding, steady, well-paying work! Which is a refreshing change after 6 solid weeks of absolutely nothing. I started off the new year lighting a show for Devon De Mayo and Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, one of my favorite storefront theater companies in Chicago. Tasters is a post-apocalyptic story of food testers being held against their will, the dangers of tyrannical rule by a select few, and the toxicity of the patriarchy at large. So, you know, right in my wheelhouse. This world premiere was such a treat to light, and I'm pretty proud of the work I did on that show.

After that I jumped right into assisting the one and only Heather Gilbert on Steppenwolf's production of Bug. I love assisting because it allows me to see how other designers work. Heather is not only a total pro (with a great name), but is a delight to work for. The whole cast and creative team of Bug made the process of making such a fucked up play, really enjoyable! If you have the chance to see this production before it closes March 15, I highly recommend it.

The day after that opened, I shifted into another tech process, assisting Greg Hoffman at the Paramount Theatre on the brand new musical, The Secret of My Success! We open this weekend, and the process of writing the show is STILL HAPPENING. We're getting new pages and new music every day, and Greg is handling it with significantly less panic than I would be! It's a blast to be working at the Paramount for the first time, and I hope I continue to work with this crew of highly professional theater makers.

I won't be in Aurora for opening though; I will be back at Steppenwolf to tech the SYA show, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. Hopping back in the Designer seat, this production is an adaptation of the book of the same name. This will be my third SYA design, and I hope they keep calling me for these projects! I love designing shows geared specifically for high school students, it's a fun demographic to make theater for. Plus, I get to team up with one of my favorite set designers in town, Arnel Sancianco, to create several Chicago hotspots and neighborhoods.

I got lucky with these projects, in that they pay well, and dovetail into one another smoothly. That isn't always the case, so I'm enjoying it while it lasts! I'm sure I will double-book myself again (as in, April), and there will be dead times (as in, May). But for now, I'm enjoying working on one thing at a time.

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