ARTIST PROFILE: Kurt Landisman, Lighting Designer

Meet Kurt Landisman, Lighting Designer for the 2015 Santa Cruz Shakespeare Summer Festival.

Santa Cruz Shakespeare The Liar

The Liar Lighting Design by Kurt Landisman

Where are you from originally? Where do you call home now?

Berkeley, CA

San Francisco, CA

How did you come to be a part of Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s 2015 festival? Do you have a history with us, or is this your first time?

Paul Whitworth invited me to light his play, The Rape of Tamar in 1994, and then I lit a few more shows for him in later years. Mike Ryan contacted me last year to design this year’s season.

What has your experience been like working with Santa Cruz Shakespeare this season?

A true challenge. Like a phoenix rising.

Kurt Landisman

Macbeth Lighting design by Kurt Landisman. Photo by rr jones.

How did you approach your lighting design work? What inspired your choices?  Was there anything you discovered during your process that surprised you?

Lighting a repertory season is always a challenging experience, meshing 3 plays together with different requirements, concepts, and personalities. Each of the three directors I’m working with have different approaches to the lighting design for their productions which must then be unified into a singular design that will work for 3 concepts, 3 different scenic locations, and 3 separate sets of costumes. It has been a delight to also mentor my friend and MFA candidate Raymond Oppenheimer, with the light design for Much Ado about Nothing.

What have been some of your favorite things to do in the Santa Cruz area when you weren’t rehearsing/working?

A road trip to Big Sur, and lunch in Carmel is always a treat, but this year I will forgo a visit to the Mystery Spot.

What is your favorite Shakespeare play? Why?

Too hard to say; King Lear, Winter’s Tale. One of the highlights of my career was working on the opera of King Lear by Aribert Reimann at the San Francisco Opera. A seminal production was seeing Ian Mckellen as Leontes at Stratford in 1976. I loved working on a production of Winter’s Tale for Berkeley Shakespeare Festival in John Hinkel Park with Annette Bening in the 80s.

Why should people come to see Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s plays this summer?

Enjoy the smell of the Redwoods, and the greasepaint, and hear the roar of the crowd, and blue jays under the stars and fog.


Tickets on sale now for the 2015 season, which features three outdoor productions, starting with the wickedly romantic Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing, opening July 3; followed by David Ives’s modern adaptation of the wickedly hilarious 17th century farce, The Liar, opening July 24; and Shakespeare’s wicked tragedy, Macbeth, opening August 7. Plus, SCS continues the tradition of its intern-showcasing Fringe production with four performances of the wickedly festive comedy The Rover, starting August 18.

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