Allen makes the leap from audience member to designer with OpenStage!

Headshot for Allen Edwards

Tell us about yourself! What theatre or other experiences did you have in this discipline before working on this show?

I started acting at Jesters in Longmont around 2001, and after moving to Mississippi drama was my only focus in high school. I started college at Southern Mississippi, and was cast in several shows but started shifting my focus on technical work. I transferred to Northern Colorado and by the time I graduated I had worked everywhere backstage, with my first time on a props crew during the show Ragtime. I was also the sound designer for Urinetown and Richard III. During the pandemic I earned my Master's in Education, and for the last two years I taught drama at Westminster High School and directed their CenterStage Theatre group, but still lived in Fort Collins. Last spring I stepped away from teaching and took my first professional gig as a props master!

How did you hear about OpenStage?

I've lived in the community for over a decade, and the first show I saw was "The Full Monty." I've been impressed by everything since!

What is your brainstorming and design process?

The first step is to read the show, figure out what it's "about" and then get on the same page as the director and design team about the feel and general aesthetics of the show. Then I build some mockups and prototypes to make sure I'm on the right track, before diving in and scaling it up. Unlike other design work, when I do props I find it's just easiest to get out the hot glue and start sticking stuff together, since it never seems to work out like I think it would on a computer. Props goes in two phases, with the first deadline being rehearsals and giving the director and actors as much to work with as possible once they're ready. The second phase is getting everything show-ready.

What has been the most challenging part of this show and your work?

Paper cuts! Actually the most challenging part to get over is getting bogged down in details. I couldn't draw every single item on stage by hand, so I had to prioritize and refine new processes in order to come in under budget and on time.

What has been the most rewarding part of this show and your work?

The show is about preserving the words and works of a beloved friend. I feel that in researching this show, I have gotten closer to The Bard than ever before. And this is after having performed a few of his plays.

What is your favorite part in the show?

Definitely the top of Act 2. I had such strong feelings reading it the first time, and the cast are absolutely doing it justice.

What is the importance of this show today? What do you hope audiences will get out of it?

Thousands of words originate here. Either spoken and never before written down, or invented from the mind of William Shakespeare, this book contains so much more than a collection of plays foundational to the language we speak today. I hope they appreciate the glimpse into how his untimely death (and lack of modern copyright laws) brought us so close to losing it all, and the struggle that it took to make sure it all wasn't lost to time.

What projects are you working on next? What is your dream role or dream show to work on?

I will be doing the same job for "Sweat" next, and I am very excited to begin that process once "The Book of Will" opens. I wish to be a part of a production of "Next to Normal" someday. That show always moves me. I never thought I had much of a Broadway voice, but then I saw "Beetlejuice" and I could be lured back on stage if someone needs a Alex Brightman.

By Lauren Gunderson
Directed by Sydney Parks Smith

November 4–December 2, 2023
Playing at the Lincoln Center Magnolia Theatre

Catch Allen's work in action in "The Book of Will" Nov. 4-Dec. 2!

When Hamlet was defaced and debased on a stage near the Globe Theatre three years after Shakespeare’s death, his works were in danger of being lost forever. Enter The King’s Men! Henry Condell and John Heminges get the band back together and race to assemble the Bard’s scattered masterpieces. Their epic undertaking results in the creation of the First Folio and the preservation of their dear friend’s theatrical legacy. The Book of Will is a tale of love, laughter, and loss. Joyously sprinkled with Shakespeare’s most beloved writing, it is sure to put a new spin on the man you think you know.