Production
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The Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | Troy, NY

 

EMPAC is where the arts, sciences, and technology interact with and influence each other by using the same facilities, technologies, and by breathing the same air. Situated on the campus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, EMPAC is dedicated to building bridges between our human senses, to modes of perception and experience, to creating meaning in a physical environment, and to the intangible world of digital technology.

Four discrete venues are designed with unique technical infrastructure to enable you, our audience, to see, hear, and move in space in endlessly different ways. We host artists and researchers to create new work and present events which ask you to join the quest for new perspectives.

text and logo from the EMPAC website
photo © Daniel A. Swalec 2012

 

January 2013 - present

As the Master Electrician and Lighting Supervisor, I am a member of the "stage technologies" team, and serve as the point person and lead technician responsible for coordinating lighting for various artist residencies, campus programs and community events in EMPAC's four venues.  Managing the lighting systems and hundreds of lighting fixtures throughout the building, I am fortunate enough to reign over a unique system re-designed to allow maximum flexibility throughout a facility that continuously re-defines itself.  The four discrete venues share an inventory of ETC EOS and ION lighting consoles, with networked remote processing units serving as backup control systems.  The venues network infrastructure allows for flexibility to control any of the facility's 1400 ETC Sensor sine wave dimmers from any console in any part of the facility.  Adding flexibility to place control consoles in control booths, on stage, in the venue itself, even in the facility's video or audio control rooms based on the needs of each individual project

 
I am also tasked with assisting artists prior to their arrival in choosing which fixtures in our inventory will best suit their needs as well as determining how to best make use of EMPAC's unique lighting infrastructure to best suit the needs of a specific project, artists, and collaborators.  At times, I also am responsible for designing campus events and some curated performances while being receptive to the needs and specifics of visiting artists and/or groups. I rely heavily on my self-imposed sense of design and aesthetic integrity to further EMPAC's mission and help to revitalize events within the building.

 

First National Tour

Grease is a 1971 musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey with additional songs written by John Farrar. Named after the 1950s United States working-class youth subculture known as greasers, the musical is set in 1959 at fictional Rydell High School (based on Chicago, Illinois' William Howard Taft School). The second Broadway revival, directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall, opened on August 19, 2007. The creative team for this new production of Grease featured scenic design by Tony Award nominee Derek McLane (The Pajama Game), costume design by two-time Tony Award-winner Martin Pakledinaz (Thoroughly Modern Millie, Kiss Me Kate), lighting design by Tony Award nominee Kenneth Posner (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Wicked) and sound design by Brian Ronan (Spring Awakening, The Pajama Game). Danny and Sandy were cast via viewer votes cast during the run of the NBC reality series Grease: You're the One that I Want!. The original score includes four songs written for the film adaptation: "Hopelessly Devoted to You", "Sandy", "You're the One That I Want", and the title number. The Broadway production ended on January 4, 2009 after 31 previews and 554 performances

The U.S. national tour began on December 2, 2008 in Providence, Rhode Island and closed on May 23, 2010 at the Palace Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio. Taylor Hicks reprised his role as the Teen Angel after playing the part on Broadway, with Eric Schneider as Danny and Emily Padgett as Sandy. Lauren Ashley Zakrin replaced Emily Padgett as Sandy in October and Ace Young joined the tour as Danny on December 1, 2009.


 

Working with Production Electrician Jimmy Fedigan, I oversaw 2 touring electricians and a local crew of 12 to move this production to a new city each week. I personally dealt with the dimming and control interfaces in every city as well as focusing the moving lights, advancing future cities, dealing with a budget, ordering supplies, and making sure the lighting department was running smoothly. Also, with the blessings of Lighting Designer Ken Posner, I conceptualized and programmed two additional encore performances for Platinum Recording Artist and American Idol, Taylor Hicks who was headlining at "Teen Angel" in the touring production.

First National Tour

 

Shrek the Musical Based on the DreamWorks Animation Motion Picture and the Book by William Steig. Book and lyrics by David Lindsay-Abaire. Music by Jeanine Tesori. Directed by Jason Moore. Choreographed by Josh Prince. Scenic & costume design by Tim Hatley. Lighting design by Hugh Vanstone. Sound design by Peter Hylenski. Hair/wig design by David Brian-Brown. Make-up design by Naomi Donne. Puppet design by Tim Hatley. Music direction & incidental musical arrangements by Tim Weil. Orchestrations by Danny Troob.  The Broadway production of the show received a total of twelve Drama Desk Awards and eight Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical.

A national tour of North America began previews at the Cadillac Palace Theatre in Chicago, on July 13, 2010, with opening night on July 25. Rob Ashford is the co-director, as the Broadway creative team revised changes. The production marked the debut of an all-new Dragon. The tour also features a new opening, new songs and improved illusions, from those on Broadway.  The original touring cast featured Eric Petersen as Shrek, Haven Burton as Princess Fiona, Alan Mingo, Jr. as Donkey, David FM Vaughn as Lord Farquaad and Carrie Compere voiced the Dragon.  The tour played its final performance at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles on July 31, 2011, ahead of a non-equity tour in September.

 


 

June 02, 2010 - August 02, 2011

Assistant Electrician - While working for DreamWorks Theatricals and Stewart Thompson Productions, with production electrician Jimmy Fedigan and head electrician Steve Deidel, I was one of three electricians responsible for moving the touring production of Shrek the Musical.  I personally maintained the 41 VL3000 spots and washes as well as 23 VL500 fixtures in addition to dealing with the day-to-day programming and focusing of the show's one of a kind projection design.  I also spent significant time dealing with an array of atmospheric and cryogenic effects while overseeing our local crew in the every day tasks involved in a production of this size.

 First National Tour

MEMPHIS was written by David Bryan (music and lyrics) and Joe DiPietro (lyrics and book). It is loosely based on Memphis disc jockey Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJs to play black music in the 1950s. It played on Broadway from October 19, 2009 to August 5, 2012, and won four 2010 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.


 

Directed by Christopher Ashley and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, the first national tour began at the Orpheum Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee in October 2011. Bryan Fenkart starred as Huey Calhoun, and Felicia Boswell as Felicia Farrell. Other cast members include Quentin Earl Darrington, Rhett George, Will Mann, Julie Johnson, and William Parry. The creative team included costume designer Paul Tazewell, scenic designer David Gallo, and lighting designer Howell Binkley.

photo ©2012 Daniel A Swalec


 

August 29, 2011 - January 16, 2013

Working for Juniper Street Productions and Alchemy Productions and again for Production Electrician Jimmy Fedigan from August 2011 thru January 2013, as one of three elec­­tricians responsible for moving the touring production of Memphis. As the Head Electrician, I was solely responsible for keepin­g the Electrics Department functioning on a daily basis. From advancing upcoming cities, to ordering supplies and scheduling work calls, my tasks week-in and week-out were varied but center around doing whatever is necessary to keep my department running smoothly. I was the direct supervisor of two touring electricians and 12 locals who safely moved $1.3 Million of lighting equipment in and out of a new venue each week.

Under the guidance of Production Electrician Jimmy Fedigan, I was given the opportunity to help lay out the production's lighting system. Included below are some of the specific paperwork I created prior to moving the touring lighting system on this beautiful production. Also included is a sample of the advance letter sent to the local head electrician three weeks prior to MEMPHIS loading into their venue, requesting information specific to the MEMPHIS National Tour.

Years of

EXPERIENCE

Working in Professional Theatre

Touring

Shows

Around the Globe

UNIQUE

Theatrical

Photography Projects