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V C Fuqua
B.F.A. in Drama
Influential Professors or Classes:
Dr Francis Hodge; John Rothgeb; B. Iden Payne; Lucy Barton The most important thing I learned was that the living theater is a continuum. From Aeschylus to Shakespeare to Tennessee Williams to Sondheim, we must never let it be broken.
Currently Living In:
Concreimers Indre, France and Atlanta, Georgia
Retired, but still design lighting for theater occasionally. Also I've gone back to my original goal: Acting.
Starting in 1957, I had been going to New York in the summers; studying with Sandy Meisner and working in any capacity I could find in the beginnings of what would soon become off-Broadway. Doing what we now call networking. I met a lot of people who would move on up-town to the very heights of the professions. I acted in a very unauthorized production of Catcher in the Rye at the Sullivan Street Playhouse while the set for The Fantasticks was being put together.
When I graduated, I was back in New York: “Broke”. I would do anything to make money within the law as long as it was working in some capacity in the theater. No waiters job for me. I would have begged first. The American Theater Wing had a placement service for technical theater jobs. I had made “A's” in both scene and lighting design, so I figured I would make a try at that. Two weeks later, I was designing the lighting for a play starring Tallulah Bankhead at The Cape Playhouse in Dennis Mass., the oldest summer stock theater in the U.S. and it's still going strong. Things can move really fast. But what I had learned at UT held me in good stead. I designed 10 shows that summer with some of the major stars of stage, screen and TV.
The scene designers at the Cape Playhouse, Helen Pond and Herbert Senn liked my work. Soon after we got back they asked me to light a show they were designing. First though I had to interview with the producer. So the next day I was in his office. It was Mr. Richard Rodgers and yes he was sitting at a piano as we talked. The show was The Boys From Syracuse, and it was a big hit. In a few months Helen, Herbert, and I were off to The Theater Royale Drury Lane to design the West End production. So I just kept on designing lighting; at the McCarter Theater for Milton Lyon, where I learned a lot from the designer Hugh Hardy. There I also designed for some great directors who were definitely on their way to the top. One was George Keathly, who would hire me for my first Broadway production, the 25th year revival of The Glass Menagerie, which starred UT alum Pat Hingle as the "Gentleman Caller". Others were Jose Quintero, Frank Cusarro, Joe Layton, and Nathaniel Merrill. I had passed the Local 829 United Scenic Artists exam and was now permitted to have a Broadway contract. Sitting on my committee as I took the test were Jeannie Rosenthal, Tharon Musser and Peggy Clark, the ladies who ruled lighting at the time. It was a trial, but I had worked as assistant for each of them so they knew me.
Things were really taking off. I designed the lighting for many shows in the next few years. One that had a lasting effect on my career was called The Mad Show, a sketch comedy based on Mad Comics. In my mind the show lent itself to something just beginning to be seen in this country: Projections. I used them extensively. And people noticed. Light shows were just starting and I knew about projections, which were in a very primitive state. The Kodak Carrousel had just been introduced, but no computer controls, every projector had an operator with a single push button and a stage manager with nerves of steel calling multiple cues of up to 30 or 40 projectors. I sort of became known as the 'Father of Multimedia'. I designed installations for the Montreal and New York World's Fair and many elaborate industrial shows for all kinds of products.
But I still kept designing some live shows, i.e. the opening production at the Jones Hall in Houston, the Tulsa Opera, ballets at the New York City Ballet. Then I had my first real flop. A musical called Pousse Café with a score by Duke Ellington, that I thought would run forever. After six harrowing months on the road, it ran one night with a loss of millions of dollars. It hit me hard. With so much success, I really wasn't adequately prepared for such total failure.
So I lit out for Europe, to Rome, where I had been offered a job to bring modern lighting design to the commercial world, designing lighting for boutiques, galleries, art collections, gardens and villas. I had by this time done a lot of this successfully in the US. They were really behind us at that time. Some of the clients included Valentino, the couturier, and the Findi sisters' fur salon, the art collection of Georgio de Cirico. A big villa and gardens in Capri. So I stayed for a lot of years. Finally buying a house in a small medieval village in central France and spending part of the year in Atlanta, GA.