July 2017

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July 2017

News & Notices

Member Spotlight: MC Friedrich

Michael MaagQ&A with MC Friedrich, scenographer, educator, and VC of Programming for the Costume Commission

How did you begin your career in theatre?

My bachelors degree was in speech and theatre education from Oklahoma State University. I started out as a high school drama teacher doing everything. I decided I wanted to move on from teaching high school and I got my MFA from Temple University in Philadelphia.

What sparked your interest for this type of career?

I had always been interested in theatre. I started out in college in a general speech major and had enjoyed working in theatre in high school and wanted to continue that. Low and behold once I was working on my bachelors degree, where I had to do everything including being on stage, I realized I liked the backstage better. It actually surprised me at the time how much I enjoyed doing the design and tech work of it.

I see that you have multiple disciplines under your belt. What are you specifically drawn to?

I’m the old-fashioned scenographer. I do scene design, I do lighting, I do costume. I would have to say I am most drawn to costume and then lighting and then scenic. Although, props work was always one of my favorite things to do, and that leans more towards the scenic. I guess the thing that I really like, and it happens periodically here at the university, is when I’m designing the whole thing. When I’ve designed the set, the costumes, the lights, and all the pieces into a unified whole. That’s a blast for me.

Is there a specific production or project that has been impactful for you?

I still really like Epic and Brecht theatre. There’s an edge to it but there’s also a lot of room for interpretation. Last fall we did The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui which is a Brecht play and that was one where I designed the set, the lighting, and the costumes. It was fun to be able to take the whole.

How does USITT play a role in your life?

Where I teach is on a peninsula that jets up into Lake Superior so I’m not close to major metro areas where a lot of theatre is and USITT has been invaluable for me to stay relevant and stay on top of my field and stay involved. It has also been a place to run into old friends. It expands my connections to reconnect with old friends and colleagues.

I thoroughly enjoy going to USITT every year. I feel like at this point I’m trying to give back. It is a fair amount of work and at this point in my career it makes no difference what I’m doing at the university level so I like to connect and I like to give back. I remember my first conference feeling overwhelmed and like a small insignificant ant. I try to remember that feeling of being overwhelmed at the conference and so I try to seek out the new people or people who are sitting by themselves who look lost and strike up a conversation. That’s also why I enjoy gong to the newcomers talk to say "no, I understand." It’s surprising how quickly you can get integrated and become part of and make USITT what it is. It really is about the members.

Is there a quote which inspires you?

The desperation quote is “done is beautiful.” I learned that in grad school. You can keep working and working and working something. That doesn’t mean do your sloppiest work and give up, it’s more about knowing when to move onto the next piece. I never manage to do everything. I’m never done. It doesn’t matter how much time I’m given. I’m never done. I must choose when done is beautiful.

Suggest a USITT Member for the Spotlight!

If you know of USITT members whose work should be in the Spotlight, please feel free to suggest them. Contact Lynne Dundas at lynne@usitt.org.