Annie Liu, a 2017 graduate of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, was recently appointed the lighting and AV supervisor at the Santa Fe Playhouse. She designed lights for the current production of Marjorie Prime, and as one of the many talented SFUAD holdovers who's currently helping keep the local theater scene together, we touched base about what it's like being a theater tech for a living.
It's a little easy to understand why some people get into acting and performing, but many folks have a harder time getting why someone would choose tech. What made you want to be in the booth?
It started in high school. I was quitting sports because all the coaches were very mean and I hated running. (Laughs) I had a few friends that were in theater, on the acting side of things, and … they were like, 'You can join tech. That's pretty fun.' So I did tech as an elective in high school, and did that for three years, then went to college for it. And now I'm here.
Well, clearly you had to like it; you didn't just go to college for it out of inertia. What made you keep with it?
It was just really, really fun. I really liked being part of a community like that. You know how theater families are like—well, families. I enjoyed how a show wasn't a show until [tech] got involved. I loved seeing the entire thing come together, and seeing the finished product. I thought it was a really cool and fun process.
And then I got involved in the lighting side toward the end of high school; [at first,] I did a lot of costume and scenic work. There were these three guys that did lighting and sound, and it was 'the boy thing,' and I was 'the girl' in the costume shop. But then towards the end of senior year, I was sneaking in with them and making them teach me. And when I came to college, I got to decide what it is that I wanted to do.
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your position at the Santa Fe Playhouse?
I would say it's doing everything. (Laughs) Because typically, you'll have a crew, a master electrician, someone hanging lights for you, at least, so you can just be the designer. But I'm all of it. So that's kind of hard, but maybe it makes it easier because I don't have to tell people what I want. … But it's been great. It's been a bit of a learning curve for both me and [production and tech manager] David [Carter]. It's just a weird space. It's also a very packed season, so it's been a little hard, but every show we just keep getting better and better, and figuring it out more and more.