From now until the end of the school year, we will be introducing and celebrating our graduating MFAs, looking back on the work they've done during their time here, and sharing their reflections and wisdom as they head off into the professional world. Today, let's get to know graduating scenic designer Isabel Le!
What do you know now that you didn’t know when you started this program?
Before I came to this program I actually barely knew about the production process of theatre art. The training I received before was majorly about being an individual artist. I was an architect, a photographer, an installation artist, a painter, and a poet. This program taught me a lot about collaborating with artists with different backgrounds, styles, and personalities. I learnt a lot about how to unfold a story well together with [other artists] based on a deep understanding of dramaturgy, and not just providing a breathtaking visual presentation.
Also, I am getting a broader understanding for the meaning of theatre art. A lot of theatre performance I watched before focused on the exploration of the personal mind, the relationships between people, and the philosophical understanding of humans and the universe. We have done quite a few productionsduring my time at UW that allowed us to connect with the community near us, and create art that can raise attention to voices and issues that have been neglected but need to be heard, such as feminism and racial equity. I didn't realize theatre can help improve the world around us.
What are you most looking forward to being able to do now that you won’t be in class or the design studio or rehearsal 12 hours/day?
Having more sleep? Haha, it's not just kidding. I would like to have more balance between work and life, which was hard to achieve in graduate school. Like everyone else, there are definitely a lot of things in life I am looking forward to, such as spending more time with friends and family, and going into the nature. I would also love to see more inspiring artists' works, do more reading and film watching, and keep a sketch journal while I am exploring more about myself and about the place I will be in. Basically it's about knowing more about myself and the people around me, as well as understanding more about the world around us.
Any plans for after graduation?
Graduate school has been intense, and I think it's necessary for me to take a break and have do some reflection on what kind of art and life I really want to pursue first. It could be dangerous for my artist self's growth if I go straight to work without examining the meaning and direction of it. And when I have a better sense of it, I may find a job to support myself financially, and keep exploring my artistic self. I know a lot of people are making a living on the art they create. I think that's great, but I don't want to be trapped in a loop of having to do whatever projects are available just to stay alive. It is really important for me to be able to protect the art I create.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?
My favorite time here was definitely related to the inspiring moments. It made my heart sing when a ground-breaking idea jumped out of my head, or when my set model was magically lit by lights, or when the real set in theatre provided an unexpected power for the story to unfold with the actors' marvelous performance on it.
What piece of advice do you have for those following in your footsteps?
I will suggest to them that they set some goals before coming to the program and reflect about what they want to achieve in these three years. It will prevent them from losing themselves in the ocean of workload and not knowing where to go. Also finding the rhythm of life that meets individual need will help a lot, so that they will be able to control the growing process instead of being pushed forward by projects. Go to see as many inspiring shows and exhibitions and other media as possible. Broaden your horizons. Talk to people. And most important, keep healthy.