Second-year MFA candidate finds niche in scenic design
by Logan Beck
For some theater majors, finding a true “calling” in the field takes experiencing a breadth of disciplines after graduation. This is true for Apollo Weaver, a second-year graduate student, who spent 15 years in the field as a scenic artist and set designer before returning to school.
“I’m at the point of my life where I’m trying to expand my options,” Weaver said.
Now, Weaver is designing the set for Temple Theaters’ upcoming production of Shakespeare's early comedy, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, a show he has worked on a few times prior to arriving at Temple.
As an undergraduate, Weaver studied theater at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY. He developed an interest in working in the shop as a student, but didn’t consider it as a career until after graduation.
Weaver describes his undergraduate experience to be similar to Temple’s theater program, in that each program allows students to explore and delve into different facets of the industry.
“Theater is such a collaboration, so you have to understand the whole picture to understand your craft better,” Weaver said.
His first job encapsulated his love for design, as a design artist for a children’s theater company in Michigan, followed by several years of freelance work in Chicago.
Now, he is honing his craft at Temple, and designing what he describes as an “accessible visual” for The Two Gentlemen of Verona.
In his design, Weaver must incorporate a provincial town, a glamorous town, and also a wilderness area as part of the set for the production. To create a sketch of these places physically, Weaver emphasizes the importance of knowing where the performers need to be mentally and emotionally in order to create a design that matches the context on stage.
“It makes for a stronger design knowing the mental/emotional context of the place,” Weaver said.
One of the major challenges of this particular production was making a set that is intimate, despite how large the Tomlinson Theater stage is.
“We wanted the stage to come out into the audience, so we are pulling out the first four rows and making a platform that protrudes into the audience,” Weaver said.
Another challenge of designing is creating a common vision with the director of the show.
“I think that the biggest challenge for me is establishing a language with the director, ultimately the director is the one that has to guide the vision figuring out a way to communicate a way that makes sense for both of you,” Weaver said.
Weaver has enjoyed working and collaborating with the guest director James J. Christy on this play.
After graduate school, Weaver’s hope is to continue doing more professional design work, and maybe even teaching at a college level. His ideal place is somewhere he can both learn and work professionally, but also teach others the tricks of the trade.
As Weaver said, theater is a collaborative effort, so his biggest piece of advice is to appreciate and respect each member of the cast and crew.
”I think that the most important thing in theater no matter what position you hold is to understand that everyone is working really hard to make one vision happen,” Weaver said “It’s easy to be like ‘you’re just hanging a light over there’ but those people are actually working really hard and everyone is working together to craft one single thing.”
Temple Theaters' production of William Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona, directed by James J. Christy, runs February 3 - 14 in the Tomlinson Theater.