Thad Hallstein: Meet the New Theatre Tech Teacher

        Henry Block   How did you decide to join the field of theater Tech? When I was in junior high and high school I participated in plays and I acted, but I was always distracted. I was more curious about what was going on with the scenery—I had opinions about it—and I started to think about it. By the time I graduated high school, I was really much more interested in theater design, so I decided to go to college for theater set design, and twenty years later, here I am. What’s your process for scenic design? What inspires you when designing a set? It always starts with the text. It starts with the script; that’s the main given. I like to be really collaborative with the director. I also really want to know what the performance space is like, because, especially in my career, I’ve designed for very small, unique, or interestingly shaped performance spaces so the way that that space shapes the design is really critical. I actually really embrace using that as a jumping point for figuring out how to tell the story. What will your position encompass here at Latin? It’s basically everything that Mr. Bowen did. So I’ll be very slowly learning all the pieces and parts of it. But it’s teaching the stagecraft class, I’ll have a [computer aided design] drafting class that I’ll teach in the spring, and it’s dealing with every aspect of theater tech. And beyond that, designing some shows, doing lights for some shows—which I’m excited about because I haven’t gotten to do lighting on the design end of things since college. At my previous job, there just wasn’t time for me to do anything but scenic design. So I’m excited about getting more involved in all of the other all-around tech activities here. Do you have any particular teaching methods? I’m starting with the syllabus that Mr. Bowen developed, and then I’m adding some of my own—you know I have different life experiences, different areas of expertise, a different personality. So what I’m really embracing is the project based aspect of it, and seeing where the students’ interests lie and guiding them to pursue individual interest areas. Because theater tech encompasses so many different disciplines. It’s world building, so anything that happens in the world can be a part of theater tech. So letting students find their passion. And even if that lies outside of theater particularly, figuring how that can align. What are you most excited about this year? I’m most excited about getting to know all the students. I’ve started to meet all the faculty, and I still have a lot to learn about them, but I’m super excited about meeting all the students because that’s what we do here. Do you have any pet-peeves that students should be aware of? Not following through on commitments. And I know that everybody here is overscheduled and overcommitted, and I totally understand that. I think that’s part of the learning process, but it’s important to just be upfront when that happens. But when people just sort of vaporize, that drives me nuts. Do you have a favorite book, tv show, food, etc.? I’m super excited about Stranger Things coming back in the fall. I mean I was born in ‘77 so that whole 80’s era is my jam. All those movies and tv shows, like ET and Star Wars were so influential growing up. I love pizza, but not really Chicago style, I like thin crust— Boiler Room is my favorite. Oh and Artisanal Tacos.    ]]>