Heather Gilbert, one of Chicago’s top theatrical lighting designers and head of the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department‘s lighting design program, is profiled in the May 2016 issue of Live Design, a magazine serving the live entertainment industry with comprehensive coverage for professionals in the fields of lighting, sound, staging, and projection. The article — “Heather Gilbert: In Love with Lights,” by Davi Napoleon — begins on page 76 of the magazine; click here to read.
In the article, Gilbert speaks eloquently about how her work as a Columbia College teacher has influenced her as an artist. “My design work got so much better when I started problem-solving with students,” she’s quoted as saying. “Talking them into a discovery hones your creativity.”
The article includes comments by several of Gilbert’s Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department colleagues, including scenic design teacher Jacqueline Penrod and Andra Velis Simon, the Theatre Department’s musical director. Also interviewed is stage director David Cromer, a Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department alumnus whose Obie Award-winning production of Our Town Gilbert designed lights for. Also described is Gilbert’s work on the Hypocrites theatre company’s innovative re-imaginings of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas H.M.S. Pinafore, The Mikado, and The Pirates of Penzance as well as the company’s Chicago premiere of the rock musical American Idiot.
As the article notes, Gilbert sometimes recruits her lighting students to work with her on professional productions and also designs student productions at Columbia as well as at theatres throughout Chicago, around the U.S., and even overseas.
Gilbert’s frequent collaborator, director Jonathan Berry, artistic producer at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre and an adjunct faculty member at the Columbia College Theatre Department, is quoted praising Gilbert as a professional who teaches — an artist working not only for the moment but for the future. This is a hallmark of the Columbia College faculty in all disciplines.
“I love her for her enthusiasm,” says Berry. “After all this time, after all these productions, her capacity to still find unencumbered joy, every day in the work, is rare indeed. The fact that she is teaching this now to students is a legacy that the theatre community will be the beneficiary of for a long time to come.”
‘My design work got so much better when I started problem-solving with students. . . .
Talking them into a discovery hones your creativity.’ — Heather Gilbert