Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

When It Comes to Theater, Design Is the Name of the Game

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

When It Comes to Theater, Design Is the Name of the Game

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Faulkner, Shorelines correspondent

The most interesting art in Florida Community College at Jacksonville DramaWorks' new play Museum could be the set itself.

Designer Mikey Livingston flipped traditional theater ideas around so the audience will actually walk through the play's set on the way to their seats. The 19-year-old Atlantic Beach resident said this way, the audience can see the on-stage sculptures, paintings and other artworks up close before the show begins.

"It is very rare to have a student with the skills and initiative to design one of our college productions, but Mike had the strong desire and maturity to go for the challenge," said FCCJ theater professor Ken McCulough. "Even more unusual is that he is working with a fellow student in the same degree program who is designing the lighting for Museum. Of course, Mike had been working closely with Johnny Pettigrew and our scene shop supervisor, Megan Elsila-Hunt, as his faculty supervisors on this project."

The Museum set is like Livingston's final exam as part of his last semester at FCCJ. It culminates two years of studies he couldn't start quickly enough.

Two years ago, Livingston was halfway through his senior year at Fletcher High School. He decided to get an early start on his college studies and future career, so he dropped out of Fletcher, passed his General Educational Development exam and enrolled in FCCJ's technical theater program.

"I found out about it doing a summer camp [FCCJ] offered when I was 15," Livingston said. "Ever since then, I've been interested in technical theater and the aspects of stage lighting and design."

Livingston pursued his studies at FCCJ and by working on community theater, high school and other productions such as the equity actors group Stage Aurora from the Northside.

"Here in Jacksonville, people who know me call me and say, 'We need help with this, can you do it for $600?' and I say, 'Of course I can,' " Livingston said. "That's sort of the way it works; I'm the cheapest game in town."

After Livingston graduates in December with his associate of science degree from FCCJ, he plans to take a job at the college for a year and then move on to Florida State University, the University of Texas or the State University of New York at Fredonia, Pettigrew's alma mater.

FCCJ began the technical theater track in conjunction with the South Campus Wilson Center for the Arts' opening in 1996. …

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