Eisenhauer Lights Up Broadway

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For Peggy Eisenhauer light is more than just illumination - it has a musical quality and rhythm. She came to the medium quite early, at age 13, in fact.

"I started to hang around this theater company in Nyack, New York, and they sent me to the lighting board for a rehearsal and showed me what to do with the little controller. I could see the flow and bloom of light on stage connected to my operation of these controllers and it was kind of musical in a sense," Eisenhauer described. "As a serious piano student I found a very similar emotional flow in controlling lighting as I did in my musical studies."

"You can find and cultivate a board of mentors who you can rely on that don’t have to give their whole life to you, but that can offer support."

Her family lived near New York City, so Eisenhauer was able to see Broadway productions and notice the work of professional lighting designers. A particular favorite was Jules Fisher, and when it came time to apply to colleges, she applied to his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University.

"I met him when I was 18, as a sophomore, because he came to school to give a talk. Flash forward to getting to work with him, not that much later when I was 23, it all sprung out of CMU," Eisenhauer said.

Indeed, only a couple years after graduating, Eisenhauer began assisting Fisher, and eventually formed an over 34-year strong artistic collaboration.

"I still think he’s absolutely brilliant. The only thing I’ve lost are the circling, twinkling stars," she says of her hero, turned mentor, and now collaborator. Together, they have earned three Tony Awards and have been nominated for a dozen.

Eisenhauer stands out as one of a few Broadway lighting designers who happens to be a woman. She refers to herself as a wildcard - someone who has broken a barrier, but hasn’t left a path behind.

One of her best suggestions for young designers is to look for mentorship, and not just from one person.

"You can find and cultivate a board of mentors who you can rely on that don’t have to give their whole life to you, but that can offer support."

2019 Excellence in Theatre Education Award Winner Creates Inclusive Environment


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