Banner Photos (left to right): Tartuffe, University of Idaho, 2008; Urinetown, University of Idaho, 2008; Into The Woods, Illinois State University, 2009.
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Alumni - Brandon Lettow '09
Finding His Place in the WorldScenic designer takes position as assistant technical director for ISU's School of Theatre
Despite graduating as recently as May 2009 with a Master of Fine Arts in scenic and sound design, University of Idaho alumnus Brandon Lettow is already finding his place in the world. That place, some 2,000 miles away, is at Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.
"Normal, Illinois, is surprisingly similar to Moscow. The only real difference is over here we have corn fields instead of wheat fields," Brandon said.
Hired as the assistant technical director for ISU's School of Theatre, Brandon shares that making the decision to move was an easy one when the right job presented itself.
Now settled into his new position, Brandon is fully immersed in his work with numerous projects on the horizon. In February, ISU mounted A Streetcar Named Desire and Don Juan Comes Back From the War. Currently, Brandon is helping build the operetta Candide, working on sound designs for Macbeth and Proof, mentoring the sound designer for Rhinoceros, and serving as Technical Director for ISU's spring dance concert. This summer Brandon will also be kept busy as Assistant Technical Director for three shows during the 2010 Illinois Shakespeare Festival.
When asked how he felt current students could maximize their time at the University of Idaho, Brandon emphasized the importance of balance.
"We have all heard the saying 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.' The best way I found to avoid getting eaten by the college monster was to make friends and share experiences. Of course, too much play and not enough work isn't the right answer either. Seeing good grades on a transcript can be rewarding."
Sharing experiences plays an important role in his current work as well.
"Hands down the biggest thing I learned from the theatre department is the art of collaboration. At some point in life everyone makes the realization that they are a part of a bigger whole. You realize that interaction and communication are key factors in the success of any project, theatre or otherwise. For me, I collaborate on a daily basis and I can not imagine how difficult it would be to succeed in this industry without this necessary skill," he said.
Brandon experienced this art of collaboration first hand at the University of Idaho during work on the department's 2008 production of Tartuffe. Stepping away from realistic scenic designs and into a more abstract, fantastical direction was "the most fun I think a designer could have, it was like coloring time with Rob Caisley (director) as we scribbled on tracing paper developing the stage."
Although he is enjoying his work in academia so soon after completing his M.F.A., Brandon urges students that are preparing to graduate to be aggressive yet patient. "I can't tell you how many resumes and cover letters I sent out before I got my first job, it seemed like a hundred." Working hard, being honest in how you present yourself, and taking pride in accomplishments has been a successful formula for Brandon Lettow, and one that he encourages other University of Idaho students to adopt.