Auburn student gives behind-the-scenes look into production of ‘Edges’
Auburn University Theatre and Dance continued its 2022-23 season “& Dance” with “Edges,” a musical by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. While fans appreciated the action on stage, it was the invisible labor behind the scenes that allowed the stars to shine.
Katie Wolfe, a senior double majoring in theatre design and technology and electrical engineering, served as the student lighting and scenic designer of “Edges.”
Wolfe found her love of theatre and engineering at a young age. After becoming more involved, she realized how concepts from both complemented each other.
“I started doing theater when I was a freshman in high school,” said Wolfe. “It was one of those things where it was a hobby. Then, the more I did it, the more I saw that engineering applications could go into it. When I started doing engineering, I very quickly realized that some of the creative and hands-on parts of the theatre curriculum apply heavily to engineering.”
Wolfe became involved in the production of “Edges” through the theatre curriculum’s senior thesis. While most thesis projects are done in one discipline, Wolfe used her experience in theatre and engineering to work on the scenic and lighting designs for “Edges.”
“The way it works is you do your thesis in one discipline,” said Wolfe. “Usually, somebody on my track would either do a lighting design or a scenic design, but because I've been involved with the program and have been interested in both, I was actually able to do both the scenic and lighting designs for ‘Edges.’”
Wolfe said balancing theatre design and electrical engineering is an everyday challenge.
“Engineering is not a quick and easy degree and neither is theatre,” said Wolfe. “There is a huge amount of time that we have to put in. There are six weeks a semester where we're there from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. every single night. Productions also operate on a trimester system, which is also how most engineering classes disperse their exams. I almost always have all of my exams while we're in tech.”
Though it is time-consuming, Wolfe internalizes each lesson her track has taught her; something she encourages other students to do.
“You should never underestimate any piece of knowledge and how valuable it might be,” said Wolfe. “There are a number of times where I've learned something in a class that gets offhandedly mentioned, and I think, ’Oh, okay. I'm absolutely never going to need that.’ Then, two weeks later, I'm in the other discipline, and I think, ‘Oh, we talked about this. What did they say?’ and then I can remember it.”
Wolfe also advises students interested in a similar track to take their time.
“It's definitely something that's doable, it's definitely something that's possible,” said Wolfe. It's going to be really difficult if you try to rush and do everything at once, so take your time.”
Wolfe expresses gratitude for Auburn's commitment to providing students with a well-rounded education.
“I've just been very grateful to Auburn for providing an educational space where I can get both majors,” said Wolfe. “It's not every school that promotes the well-rounded diversity that would allow you to get a degree in fine arts and a degree in engineering concurrently.”
Find more information on the BFA in Design and Technology in the College of Liberal Arts.