Faculty Feature: Meet Cat Wilson, M.F.A., Theatre Production
"It is inspiring to get to watch a generation discover what you already love, and it is a constant reminder of how lucky we are to get to do this every day."
Cat Wilson, M.F.A., is thrilled to join the Conservatory of Performing Arts faculty at Point Park University. Previously, she was a freelance lighting and projection designer in Chicago, working for Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Hell in a Handbag Productions, Emerald City Theatre, A&A Ballet, The Joffrey Academy, Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, among others. In Pittsburgh, she has worked with Kinetic Theatre and Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, and designed shows for Point Park before joining the faculty. Wilson believes in maintaining an active design career in order to provide students with a link to professional work, and actively enjoys using students as assistants, providing introductions to summer internships, and helping bridge the gap between school and their careers.
Tell us about more your career path and what brought you to Point Park University.
I went to grad school for lighting design here in Pittsburgh, then moved to Chicago and pursued a freelance lighting career for eight years. During that time I worked all over the country, including here at Point Park University as a visiting lighting designer for productions at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. I have always loved teaching, and working with the students here was always such a joy. I taught for a few years at a high school in Chicago, but had not really considered teaching at the college level at that point in my career. I did know that is where I would end up, though. A friend sent me a message saying Point Park was looking for a lighting faculty member, and I decided I had to apply because it was that perfect job I had hoped to apply for in the future, but here it was now.
What courses do you teach?
- Electricity for Theatre
- Elements of Stagecraft
- Lighting Design I, II and III
- Professional Preparation
- Senior Project
What can a student expect in your classes?
Fun projects, real-world examples and as much hands-on learning as possible. I also believe in a lot of feedback and participation.
What’s it like teaching the next generation of artists in Point Park’s award-winning Pittsburgh Playhouse?
It is always thrilling to realize you are working with the future of what design can be. I love getting to foster the beginnings of ideas in students, then watching them approach this new and intricate building in ways that many professionals wouldn’t think of. The students do not have a ton of outside theaters to compare this to, so their approach to working in these spaces is completely fresh and unencumbered by previous supposed to and should attitudes. It is inspiring to get to watch a generation discover what you already love, and it is a constant reminder of how lucky we are to get to do this every day.
What advice do you have for students?
First and foremost, ask for what you want. If you are interested in a specific topic, ask to learn about it. If you want to end up working for a company or in a specific industry, say so and ask to be there. If the people and faculty around you know what you want in life, they will do their best help you get there. Also, if the opportunity comes up, your name will be first in their minds if you have been vocal about it.
Secondly, be a good human. Kindness, compassion and respect for your fellow human goes a long way.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Come check out the amazing work being done in the theatre department! These students are amazing!