UI senior 'fulfills visions' with theatre lighting


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When Daniell Grothus is not creating a lighting design for a theater production, you can usually find her in the paint shop at the University of Iowa.

Creating scenic works of art is what she considers to be her break from electrics, even though that is where her true passion lays.

After attending Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis., for a year, Grothus decided transferring to a bigger school with a graduate program was in her best interest.

She originally transferred to the UI with no intention of continuing her education in theater, but after two months of working in the department, she decided that theater was where her heart belongs.

UI theater Professor Bryon Winn remembers meeting Grothus when she brought in her portfolio for an evaluation prior to taking his Lighting Design 2 course.

"In the classroom, she is an excellent student, and in production, she is a multitalented collaborator no matter what role she assumes," Winn said. "She is one of the most engaging and ambitious students in the Department of Theatre Arts."

During the past two and a half years at the UI, Grothus has been either a collaborator or a designer in over 20 shows. Most recently, she worked on the Undergraduate Director's Festival and Operation Midnight Climax.

Grothus was thrown into lighting design in junior high school. From that moment on, working behind the scenes was what she wanted to continue doing.

"You can't touch light, and I think that's what makes it so cool because you can make it or break it during the play," she said. "It's not something that's tangible that can last during the play."

A breakdown of the tasks for a lighting designer begins with receiving information from a director and then working with a design team to make their vision come true.

Once the basic ideas are nailed down, it's necessary to go through the script to decide where the lighting cues should go including, colors, brightness, angle, and if there are any lamps or flashlights on stage.

All of those cues are then put onto a light plot, which is given to the electricians before every show. The designer will then sit through a lighting rehearsal and they watch the show numerous times in order to make adjustments.

"I do love designing, because it's a different kind of work, but personally, I feel like I'm a better electrician," Grothus said. "It's a little bit of realism and practicality."

The Iowa native has recently been the master electrician for A Hamlet, The Cherry Orchard, Stick Fly, and the UI Dance Department's Dance Gala.

Hillary Foster, a UI academic coordinator, describes Grothus as one of those students who goes above and beyond and is a conscientious and selfless collaborator.

"It will be hard to find another student who will pitch in and do the amount of work that [Grothus] does on a daily basis," Foster said. "… I have no doubt that she will do exciting things in theater in the near future."

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