Former Angleton High School student returns to hometown with lighting show from The University of Texas at Austin

AUSTIN, Texas—The theatre program at Angleton High School in Angleton, Texas, will shine a little brighter this spring when former student Shelby Wilson brings home a three-day seminar on automated theatrical lighting.

Wilson’s project is part of ArtsReach, a program of the College of Fine Arts at The University of Texas at Austin seeking to foster stronger relationships between arts students at the university and high school students in smaller communities of Texas.

“Through ArtsReach, students in the College of Fine Arts have the opportunity to return to their hometowns and to share with younger people what they have learned at the university about their particular field in the arts,” said Robert Freeman, dean of the College of Fine Arts.

Wilson, a theatre major (with a concentration in lighting design), will work with Angleton’s theatre students during an event consisting of a series of lectures and theatrical lighting demonstrations. On the first day, she will exhibit several lighting instruments to give the students an opportunity to learn the different constructs—colors and patterns—the equipment is capable of producing and how they work. On the second day, the university’s robot-automated lighting crew, led by Amarante Lucero, professor of lighting design, will join Wilson in preparing a robotic lighting show for the Angleton students.

The high school’s theatre students will help set up the show, hanging instruments and feeding them data from a computerized control board. There will also be a general discussion about automated lighting, in which The University of Texas at Austin crew will teach Angleton students about design techniques, lighting equipment and their functions, and the uses of automated lighting in theatre and other venues.

Angie Hernandez, Angleton’s drama teacher, will select two students to design a lighting show of their own, which will be set to a piece of music. The visiting university students will work alongside them, helping to program the original designs.

“I believe the students will be greatly affected by our show,” Wilson said. “I am certain many of them have never seen this type of lighting equipment, let alone been given the chance to work with it. This will encourage the theatre students of Angleton to pursue careers in theatre and other fields in the arts.”

The student work will be presented on the final day of the seminar at a combined UT/Angleton High School public event. After each piece, the University of Texas at Austin designers will talk about their work and take questions from the audience.

“I hope that the students at Angleton will take away from the experience the fact that there is a chance out there for them to start seriously developing interests in theatre,” said Wilson. “ArtsReach is a great idea to open doors for students who are interested in the arts. I hope the students gain the interest in theatre that I gained when I came to UT.”

The University of Texas at Austin is the only institution in the U.S. that teaches the instruction of automated lighting design. With robotic lighting, individual light fixtures are run by a computer that automatically activates the equipment and controls its position, color, texture and intensity.

Wilson’s lecture series on automated lighting will run April 2-4. The combined UT/Angleton robotic lighting show will be presented at 5 p.m. on April 4 in the Angleton High School theatre. The production will be about 45 minutes long, followed by a reception to give the audience the opportunity to speak with the designers from the university.

For more information contact: Bruno Longarini, College of Fine Arts, 512-475-7021.