Lighting Design Graduate Student
University of Washington
Discovering a love of lighting design in her theatre classes at Knox,
Ryn Flynn '10 is currently pursuing an MFA in lighting design at the University
of Washington in Seattle, with the goal of teaching at a school like Knox in the future.
How has your Knox experience affect the course of your life?
Knox has affected the course of my life in so many ways. Before my time at Knox, I really had no clear idea of what life would honestly be like for me after graduation, but there I found out about the University of Washington and other graduate school opportunities out there for a designer. With the support of the Theatre Department professors, I took the leap into a graduate program that has helped me polish the skills I first learned at Knox. I now know where my life is headed because I was able to find myself on my own terms during my time at Knox. The theatre at Knox also gave me the opportunity to create a strong start to my lighting design portfolio, and almost everyone I have met since is enviable of the amount of realized work I have at such a young age. I was also able to grasp theatre on a new and deeper level through all of my philosophy studies with Daniel Wack. Those classes changed the way I think everytime I read a new play, and also how I bring the story to the everyman audience on a deeper level. It is because of this part of my Knox education that I always strive to work on shows that force the audience to think long after they have left the theatre. Not only was my continued education, career choices, and approach to theatre affected but also my personal life, for it was at Knox that I met my husband, Adam [Kent] Flynn ‘10.
How has your Knox experience made an impact on your career?
When I first came to Knox, I was hell bent on being a poet who stage managed to make enough money to survive on after college. I am now in the process of getting my MFA in lighting design so I can work professionally as a lighting designer and someday teach at a college just like Knox. (Pictures at right and below right: Ryn Flynn '10 at work on lighting design at graduate school.)
I found a true love for the art of lighting design in Craig Choma's class my sophomore year -- this was supposed to just be something to do while I waited for the scenic design class to come around the next year. It would be fair to say that the final project in that class changed my life. The assignment was to create a movement of lighting across a sculpture to music that has no recognizable words to me -- I chose a song by an Icelandic band called Sigur Ros. I felt so alive and peaceful while working on this project that I knew by the time I presented it that lighting was where my heart was and would always be. Then I found another love while being a teaching assistant (TA) in Craig's Intro to Tech class -- teaching at the college level. I guess it would be fair to say that Craig really helped me tap into my true loves within the theatre and find my way into a career that will be completely fulfilling.
What's the most important thing you learned at Knox outside the classroom?
At Knox, I learned that you could be an artist without starving or selling out. You just have put in the work and find fellow artists who are willing to put in the work, too. Once you find them, together you can truly impact the world.
Describe a memorable experience or professor and the impact it had on you.
It would be impossible to pick just one, but if I must it would have to be co-designing the lights for Rep Term XV Angels in America Parts 1&2 with Craig Choma. The entire experience of Rep Term was amazing, but working on this design was without a doubt the highlight for me. This experience was so special because I was being treated as an equal by Craig throughout the design process, and that treatment allowed me to think of myself as a true designer and not just a student playing around in the theatre in all of her free time. The production itself was a massive undertaking for everyone -- there is a reason most people only do one play at a time -- but as a company we all stepped up to the challenge, and as a part of that company I did some of my best work. I was also able to use our moving light fixtures for the first time during this production, and they opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me in terms of my approach to lighting. This experience also gave me the chance to work with both Kelly Hogan and Liz Carlin-Metz who operated differently in a tech situation. I was thus forced to adapt to the different styles in order to give each the lighting they were looking for, and this is a skill that has served me well for now I am able work with a variety of directors. All of these things came together to not only create a stunning lighting design -- one I still consider one of my best -- but also sealed my fate. For in that moment, I knew I was a lighting designer.