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Designer Spotlight: Aja Jackson

60 second life story: How did you come to be a lighting designer?

I started theatre in grade school and joined the Omaha Community Playhouse Technical Apprenticeship Program majoring in electrics while I was in high school. After seeing more and more shows, I found that lighting was the most articulate way for me to join the theatrical conversation. I enjoy the ephemerality and complexity of lighting and the technology to make it all happen.

As a guest lighting designer, how did you become involved with this production?

Last season I was invited to design Superior Donuts with Susan Bear Collins. I met Susan as an apprentice at OCP. We had a great collaboration together. This season, Jim Othuse, Resident Lighting and Scenic Designer at OCP, invited me to join the creative team for Shakespeare In Love.
Overhead view of Shakespeare in Love lighting plot

What inspired or influenced your design for Shakespeare in Love?

The text. The play is very fast moving and dynamic. I wanted to create a light plot that was flexible so we would be able to go from the bright comedic moments of a pup scurrying across the stage to the sensual and intimate moments between William Shakespeare and Viola De Lesseps.

What was the biggest challenge you encountered while designing this production?

The second level of the set. We have limits to how high we can fly the electrics out. This is one of the tallest sets that the Hawks Mainstage has had. We needed to light the balcony from many positions to make sure that the actors could utilize the entirety of the playing space.

What do you love about Shakespeare in Love?

I found a lot of joy in lighting a play within a play, intimate scenes, and the big company fight scenes. I think the beauty of this play is that there is a moment that can resonate with most people. From work frustrations, financial woes, to love and love lost, Shakespeare In Love is a romantic, action-packed comedy for all hearts.

See Aja’s amazing work in Shakespeare in Love playing through May 6th in the Hawks Mainstage Theatre.