What’s your “deal?” Who are you? What’s your story?10259187_10152223915008165_1558390513034930607_o
My name is Stacey Koloski—I’m a set designer and director in Portland. This is my third season here—this summer’s Fool of the World and the Flying Ship set is my sixth TAM set.  When I’m not in Monmouth, I co-own a year-round children’s musical theater company called STAGES: The Performing Arts Academy for Kids, and co-direct the PortFringe Theater Festival each summer.

What is the biggest misconception about your job?
That I’m a great carpenter!  Ha! There’s a big difference between knowing enough building skills to be dangerous, and being a great builder.

Many people assume the set designer is also the person who actually constructs the set. This is sometimes the case (or even the expectation). And the “jack of all trades” reality of most small independent theaters is great fun, actually—but  it is always a liberating experience to design for TAM, where the expectation is to, well, DESIGN! In fact, when I was first hired by TAM in 2013, I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that my help was not needed to build the set!

Having so much time to explore the rich texts and discuss/compare notes with smart directors and designers is a delight. So is the conversation with other TAM production team members who are comprehensively thinking about best building practices, materials selection, how to stay within budget, what will fit backstage during change-overs, etc. As a designer, I love having access to that big-picture stuff—it  informs and refines the design of each set, and (I hope!) makes me a more thoughtful designer on future projects.

There’s nothing like walking into the shop one day and seeing a set completely and beautifully constructed, ready for paint and finishing.  It’s a privilege to work for and learn from the amazing people who make this magic happen at TAM. Getting to hang out in the shop with people like Jim and Tannis is one of the highlights of each TAM experience.

Can you tell me about the happiest moment of your life?
Impossible to answer—there are just too many happy moments in my life to pick just one. That sounds really trite or cheesy, but it’s absolutely true—I  have a brilliant life partner and two beautiful children. I had a great childhood with a wonderful supportive family. I had a great education and many career opportunities over the years. I love what I do. I get to live in Maine.  I have been fortunate. I hope for a long sequence of happiest moments still to come.

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The cast of Fool of the World and the Flying Ship
Photo by Aaron Flacke

Who is your role model and why?
This one is tough, too. It’s impossible to pick one role model—I  would have to say I most admire the people who have dreams and ideas and then find ways to make things happen. I’m inspired by entrepreneurs with crazy ideas that turn into successful businesses, or people who overcome adversity/tragedy/impossible odds.  Children in general. They can make the best role models, as they are so open to the POSSIBLE.

 


What was your first impression of TAM?
TAM is a unique, happy, magical place.  Which, by the way, has been the same impression every time I have arrived at TAM since then.

What was your first theatre job?
My first theatre job was as an arts administration intern in the membership department of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.  On my first day my supervisor gave me a tour, left for a lunch break… and never came back! I was offered a different internship but chose to spend that summer working with the department management to clean up the mess left behind and re-build a membership services program. It was not a hands-on artistic job but that internship was a crash-course in patient perseverance, collaborative teamwork, and strategic planning—skills and experiences that have been useful over and over again in all types of jobs during the past 20 years!

Describe yourself in three alliterative words.
Organized, Open-Minded, Optimist.

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