The giant set is keeping its director awake at night

Elizabeth Myers

Bill Amato, a second year graduate student in Kent State’s theatre design and techonolgy program, stands amid the half-built set of “Wonderful Town” in E. Turner Stump Theatre. As techinical director for the show, it is Amato’s job to make sure the sets a

Credit: DKS Editors

“Do not disturb,” the sign on the graduate assistant’s office door read. “Bill is sleepy.”

And Bill has every right to be.

Bill Amato is a graduate student in the theatre department, working toward his master of fine art degree in theatre design and technology. And this semester, he is completing his thesis on “Wonderful Town,” Kent State theatre’s first production this semester.

“I hate my name right now,” Amato said. “I can’t get two minutes away from anybody.”

Amato is balancing four classes and teaching Intro to Scenery while acting as technical director for the show. His job is to coordinate with the scenic designers and builders to make sure the sets are safe, practical and still uphold the designers’ vision.

“Bill is running as fast as he can right now,” said Steve Zapytowski, a theatre professor, co-scenic designer and Amato’s thesis adviser. “It’s a very big job, and he will have to continue to run.”

“Wonderful Town” may be the largest production Kent State has ever produced. Zapytowski said in his 20 years as a professor, he does not remember a show as large or as complicated.

Approximately nine separate and moving sets have been designed for the show. Last semester’s “Lysistrata” had one.

Amato admits it is a big undertaking for a student. He has been working on the thesis process since November, when lighting, scenery and costume design began.

Despite the large-scale production, he chose to take on the project now in his second year as a graduate student, rather than his third and final year.

“I’d always been told to do it in my second, rather than third, year,” Amato said. “It’s kind of like senioritis in the third year.”

Amato starts off his day with morning classes, then he heads to work in E. Turner Stump Theatre in the Music and Speech Center. He, as well as scene builders, painters, lighting crew and lab students, work until 5 p.m. This time can be challenging for Amato.

“You never know when someone will change their mind about something,” he said. “From whether or not they will show up to work or whether they will change their design, people are always changing their mind.”

When 5 p.m. hits, Amato will either stay late to finish anything that needs finished or head home for several hours of work on drafting. Drafting is a layout of the stage showing where and how set pieces are arranged.

To successfully complete the thesis, which is part-documentation and part-practical, Amato must make sure “Wonderful Town” opens on time and runs successfully. And according to Zapytowski, Amato appears to be on schedule.

“I just can’t wait for (the show) to be up so I can sleep,” Amato said.

Contact performing arts reporter Elizabeth Myers

at [email protected].