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CTC lighting design fellow Alex Miller-Long enjoys experimental work

Reporter’s note: Each summer, Chautauqua Theater Company opens its stage doors to young actors and theatermakers for a fully funded fellowship. This summer’s conservatory includes 14 actors, four design fellows and one directing fellow. They will work alongside CTC staff and visiting professionals, and serve as the core of the theater company for all CTC shows. To help readers get to know them, interviews with CTC conservatory members will run regularly in the weekend edition of the Daily throughout the summer.

Who: Alex Miller-Long, 26, Chautauqua Theater Company lighting design fellow.

She assists all visiting lighting designers for the mainstage shows this season — Noises Off, Detroit ’67 and Romeo & Juliet — and created the lighting design for the CTC After Dark production of One Arm, as well as the New Play Workshop productions of Birthday Candles and Building the Wall.

Where she’s from: Originally from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she studied theater for her undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, Miller-Long recently completed her M.F.A. in design from the University of California, San Diego.

First theatrical memory: “When I was 5 years old, my kindergarten class took a field trip to go see Wizard of Oz,” Miller-Long said. “And I had never seen the movie and didn’t really know the story or anything like that, and it got to the end where the wizard’s not real.”

Instead of being amazed, Miller-Long felt “very disappointed.” She left thinking she could have made the show better.

Theatrical credits: Miller-Long has worked in both design and production for various companies, including La Jolla Playhouse, Williamstown Theatre Festival, La Jolla Symphony and Malashock Dance.

She especially enjoys designing for new works. Recent projects include East Coast Curriculum at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, Streamers at UC San Diego and Miss You Like Hell at La Jolla Playhouse.

Dream projects: Big gestures and grand concepts attract Miller-Long, who said she enjoys experimental and expressionistic work.

“In design, we spend so much time trying to make people look good, trying to make people look pretty,” Miller-Long said. For her work, especially on plays that require a more visceral response, she likes to ask, “What is the opposite of that?”

While Miller-Long enjoys working in theater, she is also interested in exploring other ways of using her skills, like in architecture, fine arts installations and event planning.

For fun: “We had our company day off, and so I just got in my car and sort of started driving,” Miller-Long said. “And when I see something interesting, I’ll stop and I’ll get out and I’ll walk around and I’ll take pictures.”

She recently finished Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh and is currently watching the Showtime series “Shameless.”

Favorite food: “I love Kraft Macaroni & Cheese,” Miller-Long said. “It’s not my favorite thing to cook. I like to usually try something new, find something new, but if I’ve had a really bad day, I go home and I make Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.”

Why Chautauqua: Living in a community allows her to be a constant, Miller-Long said, while also being able to draw inspiration from visiting artists.

“You become a part of something, but then it’s not only the same people, you’re still getting some fresh blood, some new ideas,” Miller-Long said.

Tags : Alex Miller-LongChautauqua Theater CompanyDetroit ’67Noises OffRomeo & Juliettheater
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The author Dara McBride

A recent graduate of Syracuse University’s Goldring Arts Journalism program, she comes to Chautauqua after covering Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina, for The Post and Courier. A Delaware native, she spent three years as a lifestyles editor on Maryland’s Eastern Shore writing about local authors, musicians and artists. Her work has also appeared in American Theatre magazine. She can be reached at dara.mcbride@gmail.com or @DaraMcBride.

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