Liam Klingberg’s love of the theater began with acting in elementary school. Now 18 and a senior at Dr. Phillips High School—one of only two schools in Central Florida with a performing arts magnet program—Klingberg has found he has a passion for lighting and scenic design.
The difference between the two is simple. Lighting design is the artistic use of lighting and scenic design is artistic use of architecture for theater.
Klingberg is currently a W. Daniel Mills apprentice on the lighting track at the Garden Theatre. He says he got interested in working off stage when he saw a design crew work on a production at his high school. The team built staircases, walls and other large structures. “I was instantly struck by how exciting it would be to be able to create a sense of place sort of out of thin air,” he says.
Working as a lighting apprentice for the Garden Theatre’s production of “Parade,” Klingberg is getting to practice with lighting professionals that have extensive experience beyond the stage. The Garden’s lighting designer George Jackson is a master electrician who also has done lighting design for theme parks, Orlando Repertory Theater, the Orlando Magic, and mixed martial arts (MMA) events.
“Seeing what George can do has given me a deeper appreciation for the importance of lighting,” Klinberg says. Even better, Klingberg is also learning what a versatile career lighting can offer. Like Jackson, Klingberg hopes to do more than theater lighting and has his sights set on museums, special events, and hopefully even Cirque du Soleil. Interestingly, it was his parents who were a little broken-hearted when Klingberg stopped acting and singing and turned toward lighting instead. “My parents have always been very supportive. I think they liked seeing me on stage and they miss that a little. I miss it too, but they’re still really supportive and they can tell this is something I love doing.”
Klingberg says his dream theater production to work on is “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” because of the potential he sees for multiple sets, huge moving flats, vibrant colors, and various light projections.
Up until his apprenticeship, Klingberg’s design work experience was only with scale models. He says he spent hours making a scale model of a brick wall by hand and was pleased with how well it turned out. He can only imagine how much more empowering it will be to see his designs larger than life.
Growing up in Orlando has helped Klingberg recognize how much more there is to lighting design than the theater. Once he started to think about lighting on a deeper level, he saw its fine artistry. “I really love the work of all the theme parks in Orlando. The audience they reach and the technology they use is brilliant. I’d love to be a part of it someday,” Klingberg says.
For other lighting design hopefuls like himself, Klingberg suggests that they be passionate about it. He also stresses the importance of drafting and doing lots of research for time period, design style and other themes.
“I tend to believe you’ve got to do the work, but also if you love it, it will happen,” Klingberg says.