This Pirate enchants audiences
with his set designs.
Collin Eastwood watches his dreams materialize on stage
When ECU’s Storybook Theatre production presents “The Little Prince,” Collin Eastwood will transport audience members to another world, although they won’t even see him on stage.
What they will see are the theatrical sets he’s designed to surround the performers on stage during the production.
The ECU senior, who is studying theatre arts, decided he wanted to be a stage designer after taking a technical theatre class in high school. “We learned to build and paint sets, and we made it rain on stage, which I thought was an amazing feat,” he said. “After that class, it just sort of seemed like the obvious thing to do. I've never doubted it since.”
When Eastwood begins a design, he starts by searching for themes and symbols in the script. “I try to really understand what the playwright wanted the audience to know and see,” he said.
From there, he sketches a variety of ideas and collaborates with the director until they reach a mutual agreement. Then he creates models of the props and actors and places them on a miniature mockup of the stage – in this case, the stage in Wright Auditorium.
Before the cast is even picked, Eastwood has already designed the set and created his models. “What the director will do is play inside it with these little people. The models are pretty proportional in height to the actors, so the director can go through the script and plan their movements,” he said.
Eastwood said his favorite part of the production process has been the collaboration with the assistant designers. “No single element can make a show, and the designers are all so talented; being able to work together has been amazing,” he said.
The most difficult part of set design for Eastwood is making everyone happy. “When you are designing, everyone who is involved with the production has their own vision of what it should be like, and trying to understand what it is and how it works into your own vision becomes very challenging,” he said. “But, collaboration is also what makes theatre the best.”
Eastwood has been the assistant designer for shows at ECU since his sophomore year, but this is the first time that he has been a lead designer for a show. “I've known for a very long time that I wanted to be a designer, but there aren’t words to describe how it feels to actually be doing it,” he said. “Gratitude is a good place to start, though. Not everyone gets to watch their dreams unfold in front of their eyes.”
He will also design the upcoming show “Arcadia,” which opens Feb. 26.
After Eastwood graduates in December 2015, he plans to move to New York City or Chicago, where he hopes to find work as a set designer.
What is your favorite part of the set design process?
The beginning. Because when you’re beginning you read the script and you find what you love about it. And then there’s the making of the models; I really adore making those things. There’s something intoxicating about having something go from a little play thing to a full-scale design with people actually living within the realm.
How has your ECU education prepared you for your future?
There is an astronomical difference from where I started to where I am now. I've learned how to use the tools, mix the paints, build, draft, analyze and conceptualize. I’ve learned how to think critically and to critique effectively. These are things I’ve embraced.
What advice do you have for people who want to go into theatre design?
Do it. It has been the most fulfilling work I have ever done. I have felt myself grow into the person I am through the efforts I've put in to become a designer.
What is your dream job?
Designing a set for Steven Spielberg. That guy knows what’s up.
What is something everyone should do while at ECU?
Go see a play. It’s never too early to become a lifelong supporter of the arts.
Photography by: Cliff Hollis
Written by: Grace Haskin
School: School of Theatre and Dance
Major: Theatre Arts with a concentration in design and production and a focus on scenic design.
Hometown: Cary, North Carolina
Hobbies & Interests: Sculpture, painting and woodworking.
Clubs & Organizations: The United States Institute for Theatre Technology Student Chapter.
Hangout: Winslow's Tavern
Place on Campus: Messick Room 110 (The set design lab)
Place to Eat: EC Pho
Class: THEA 3603 - Model Making
TV Show: Firefly
Musician/band: Paul Simon
Movie: When Harry Met Sally
Most Influential Professor: Nate Sinnott, faculty scenic designer and mentor.
Dream Job: Designing the sets for sci-fi films (Star Wars, Episodes 10-12?).
You Can’t Live Without: Coffee.
Role Models: Martin Luther King Jr., Jim Carrey, my parents (Peter and Kim Eastwood), Barack Obama and Captain America.
Words to Live By: “If you’re not early, you’re late.” – John Shearin
Advice to Fellow Students: Keep an open mind. ECU has opportunities to do and learn a million things. You never know what you’ll enjoy until you’ve tried it.
Something cool about ECU you wish you knew as a freshman: The school provides access to so many tools on your computer for free. You just need to know which labs to use.
“Keep an open mind. ECU has opportunities to do and learn a million things. You never know what you’ll enjoy until you’ve tried it.”
– Collin Eastwood