Alumnus finds successful career as freelance designer
by Deneia Washington
As theater students begin thinking about their professional career after college, freelancing may be considered as an option. Lighting designer Shon Causer (MFA ’06) chose to become a freelance designer and hasn’t looked back since.
Causer’s interest in lighting grew upon graduating from high school and being asked to run a spotlight for a musical at a local junior college in his hometown. “From there, I began working as an electrician at a local theatre that brought in many different types of productions,” said Causer. These experiences helped him learn the technical aspects.
To Causer, the advantages that come with being able to work with multiple theaters are fun and plentiful. “I get the opportunity and learn from them and accomplish some awesome storytelling,” says Causer. “To interact with different artists, with different aesthetics.” Lighting design is able to change the mood or elicit emotions through shifts in colors, “without an actor saying a word.”
Though Causer enjoys being a freelance lighting designer, he does admit that freelance can be tricky. “The hard part of freelancing is finding the next gig. Making sure your booked far enough in advance to ensure that you are paying your bills and putting food on the table,” he says. But the end result is “not only a check that clears, a successful production.”
Scenic model of the MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG set. Designer: Marie Anne Chiment
For those contemplating making freelance your career route, Causer says what’s most important is your name and reputation, as these two components can be the key to finding work. “With success, your name and reputation is stronger and the more likely that director, producer, or the theater will remember you and want to work with you again,” says Causer.
“If you slip-up and tarnish your name, it will follow you. Odds are, others will know of your slip-up. Then you have to work ten times as hard to restore your reputation,” he adds.
Currently, Causer is the lighting designer for Temple Theaters’ upcoming production Merrily We Roll Along directed by fellow alumnus Brandon McShaffrey which opens on Friday, March 13.
As Causer continues to move forward in his career, he hopes to continue to create some great art and storytelling.