Nelah Gabler will be the Scenic Artist for the upcoming The Theatre Project production of A Christmas Story: The Musical! She took time from her vacation to answer some questions about her theatre experiences and future!
What is your history with The Theatre Project?
I believe my first show as scenic artist was Oliver! I also had the joy of acting in it as well.
You are joining the production team as a scenic artist. What does a Scenic Artist do for a show?
The Scenic Artist brings the director’s vision to the stage set through textures and painted effects.
How do you go about visually translating a script to the stage?
I translate the set by working with those scenes that need to visually be supported, but not overwhelming the story. The design needs to be kept as simple as possible and allow the actors to take us there. However simple does not mean boring!
When creating sets and backdrops do you prefer a realistic or expressionistic approach?
Those approaches are both up to the director. However I cannot prefer one over the other as they both allow me to have a great pallete and vision.
Of all the shows you have seen which one had your favorite production design and why?
For TTP that would have to be Suessical. The design was original with the giant books, functional and kept scene changes to a minimum. It was also visually fun and pleasing to the audience. Overall for me the Broadway production of Peter and the Starcatcher for those same reasons. When I see a show I am all about the set and how they make pieces interchangeable, Peter was magical that way.
How are you preparing for A Christmas Story: The Musical!?
Still in the early stages, but working with Rachel and David on how to make this show that has many large pieces and scenes move well and still tell the story. This show will be more about producing a time period and feeling.
How can someone become a better visual artist?
Just like anything else lots of practice and experience. I majored in theatre so all of my visual art experiences have helped me to here. I have worked with some creative and amazing folks in community and equity theatre settings. Experiences are major as well asking lots of questions! And of course the internet is your friend in being able to educate and understand techniques.
What do you do when you’re not working with The Theatre Project?
I teach visual art youth classes, set design and painting, travel and work in pottery and painted paper collage.
What medium do you prefer to work in and why?
Well that changes! Right now I am working towards finding my story through painted paper collage. I have worked on this journey for a while and now have time to seek out other artists and styles to learn new techniques.
Where did you study art?
I studied theatre at the University of West Georgia.
Who inspires you and how do they inspire you?
In the professional set world it’s a guy names Edward Cox. He is able to work big and small and produce pieces with amazing speed and perfection. In community theatre, a former coworker and artist, Holly Corin, showed me many of the techniques I still use today.
In the visual arts world right now it’s Elizabeth St. Hilaire. She has many of the same experiences as me as how art gave her confidence as a child and helped her find her way.
Overall, Harris Wheeler my HS chorus teacher, who introduced me to theatre and remains an amazing musician and human being, will always be my inspiration.
What is your dream show?
I’m not a huge fan of the show but always wanted to paint Into the Woods. I would also like to work on Matilda because that set has always made me smile.
You can see Nelah’s beautiful work in A Christmas Story: The Musical! this fall with performances November 10, 11, and 12. They are still taking registrations for the August 13 auditions at the Mable House Arts Center. Call 770.819.3285 for more information.