Becky Marshall (2nd Quarter, 2005)

2nd Quarter, 2005
Art Scholarship Winner
Becky Marshall

Becky Marshall grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. In high school she became involved with theater and participated in several productions as an actor and as a part of numerous backstage crews. Upon graduation, Becky enrolled at Ithaca College and received a B.A. in Studio Art with a Minor in Theater. Since her college days, she has worked professionally in theater for over a decade as a Scenic Designer, Properties Master and Scenic Artist. As a between-semesters-job last summer, she originated Chilly Dawg, a company that manufactures all natural frozen treats for dogs and is realizing great success.

A Portion of Becky’s Winning Essay:

Becky Marshall
Becky Marshall

Growing up I was always a creative kid, whether I was cooking mud and berry pancakes on the hot street in the summer or making enormous three-dimensional cities out of cut up brown paper bags placed on a piece of plywood. Every creature in my stuffed animal collection had names and hand-crafted clothes to wear that I lovingly made, with stores to run and restaurants for them to operate. I always insisted on having a hand in how my family and I were going to redecorate my bedroom even if it were just moving the furniture around. All I needed was scissors, tape and any kind of paper, and I would be busy for days.

In high school I became involved with the theater; working on the make-up crew, building and painting scenery and then onto acting. Theater incorporated pieces and parts of things that had always interested me into a larger whole that made perfect sense. I took art classes and became entrenched in almost every theater production in one way or another. It was as if a light had gone on in my head.

After high school I dispatched off to college in the hopes of becoming a great actor. Thankfully, I realized about halfway through my four-year tenure that acting was not for me. I never had a sense that I was creating anything. I made an appointment with the head of the theater department, and he suggested I delve into Scenic Design. Well, it was like another light had turned on in my head. How logical and perfect, I thought. I became a Studio Art major, and the theater department very generously allowed me to take any and all the classes I wanted, even giving me an opportunity to design scenery on their mainstage which is usually reserved for design majors. Although I am older now, things haven’t changed much. I have consistently worked in theater professionally since leaving college primarily as a Properties Master, finding everything within the four walls of the scenery. I have worked for theaters large and small. I have even had the fantastic opportunity to teach Scenic Design and Painting to high school students at Gallery 37 in Chicago.

Most people think my job entails just going out shopping and having fun; they aren’t entirely correct. While I do spend a good deal of time shopping, I spend more time involved in period research, making phone calls to track down the prop that doesn’t exist and in meetings talking with directors, designers and others about what is appropriate for the play. A prop person must know theater and how it runs; I need to understand and be skilled in painting, drawing, drafting, sculpture, architecture, space planning, periods of history, periods of art history, clothing, sewing, printing, sciences, engineering, chemicals, power tools, musical instruments and millions of other minutiae that an audience member rarely notices while enjoying a theatrical performance. Oddly, therein lies part of the enjoyment of a job well done, that no one notices.

Having such a broad knowledge base of design and art I have naturally gravitated toward more permanent interiors. On more than a few occasions I have been asked for advice on what color to paint walls, or asked to shop for or go shopping with someone—“should I get that pedestal sink or purchase the vanity?” It is a non-stop adventure seeing what will work and what will not; it is a quest that is always evolving but is never completed. As a result of the very fleeting nature of my daily work the search is restless and ceaseless to find other permanent walls to paint or rooms to redo. Thank goodness I have such patient and obliging parents.

Out of this desire to find more permanence in my work and places to impact comes the evaluation of my career. I have worked my magic in theaters all over the city of Chicago. It is now time to reach into people’s homes, workplaces or establishments to bring them more enlivened places to inhabit, show them that while white walls can be okay some color is infinitely more interesting or that the run down building on the corner has potential to have the coolest interior for a club or a restaurant or a store with the possibilities being endless which in turn can resurrect a neighborhood. The reaches of design are numerous and affect the way people live, work, eat and think. To me, good design is noticed but also not noticed. If choices and elements are correct, one is comfortable in an environment, aware of their surroundings but not. I want to create a feeling, a sense of milieu and a heightened awareness for one’s surroundings. After all, all the world’s a stage.

Copyright 2007, All rights reserved.

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