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Meet Alex Calle

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alex Calle.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
My story started in a small, dusty, weathered, and perfectly romantic theater in the heart of a quaint downtown in South Florida. The Lake Worth Playhouse, just 2 miles inland from some of the best beaches known, is where I discovered a passion I would follow for the next 30 years. I was six, having been dropped off as part of a summer program the local community theater was hosting. My mom, working her three jobs to cover the costs of our life, needed the cheapest daycare she could find… and a local community theater fills that need pretty well. So over the course of that one summer, I unearthed what it was to tell stories, immerse myself in worlds other than my own, and be amongst others that loved to do the same.

In the blink of an eye, I had spent the better part of the next five years at that theater. The ‘go-to’ boy; ‘hang that light’, or ‘paint that wall’, or ‘say these lines’. What most college theatre students do during their summer breaks, learning the ropes of theater and ‘the craft’, in what is known colloquially as summer stock, I spent between the ages of 6 and 11. My nights, my weekends, and my summer days were filled with how people thought, spoke, collaborated, and created theatre. It was heaven.

One quiet night in the theater, watching a technical rehearsal, I heard a group of voices behind me. Turning around, the following several minutes would prove to be some of the most impactful of my life. Three artists hovered around a dimly lit table, sitting smack in the center of the theater, discussing the elements on stage. How the shape of the costumes were highlighting the intensity of the scene, how the lighting needed to refocus in order to accept the sharpness of the upstage wall and further the storyline for the main character, etc. A real life moment of true collaboration amongst artists; and I was there to witness it.

A costume, lighting, and set designer walk into a bar…

Suddenly my world came into focus and a hurricane of questions came to mind, “People do this for a living? They tell stories with inanimate objects? The shapes, lines, textures, and colors that they employ can make an audience feel a certain way?”

It was there I fell in love with design. Generally at first, and then ultimately focused on scenic design specifically as high school came to an end. Creating the environment actors inhabit. How they move and interact with a space is directly related to how that space is designed. That causation is what drew me to scenic design. Similar to architecture in how space is created but squarely focused on furthering a story, a character, a plot line for the consumption of an audience, visual emotional manipulation fascinated me.

I have been very fortunate to have taken that passion and built on it through a variety of mediums. Through my time at CalArts, where I pursued my education in Scenic Design, and then later working professionally. Feature Film, Stage, TV, Live Event, Public Art, and Theme Park Design have been the mediums for the last 15 years, however my core tenant has always stayed the same. I’m still that 6-year-old boy walking into that dusty bare stage for the first time, every time I walk into a theater, sound stage, concert venue.

I get goosebumps as the lights dim, the music picks up, and the screen flutters to life or curtain pulls away. I just can’t wait for what world awaits.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Interesting roads are always the ones with more curves in them. (As with most cleaver retorts, this is easier said than done)

The life of an artist, creator, imaginer is always fraught with obstacles and struggles. Not only do you have to perfect the work you are doing, but also perfect the way in which that art engages and presents itself to audiences; all while knowing every choice you make is 100% subjective, random, and just ‘feels right’. Artists toe the line of being either overconfident or filled with self-doubt; the magic happens somewhere in between.

If you perfect this, please send me a postcard.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a stage and screen designer.

I tell stories for a living.

I create art with inanimate objects with others who engage my art with art of their own, whether it be with movement, speech, light, fabric, or sound.

It’s magical.

My diverse portfolio is what sets me apart. I love bouncing; film to stage, public art to theme park design and production, installation art back to film. It keeps me engaged and alive as an artist. Helps to flex different muscles and keep sharp in the way other people communicate.

I’m most proud of my tribe. I love being around great people and great artists. It takes many years to understand the tribe you want and aspire too and even more years to build a tribe of people you love working with. I’m getting there.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
Entertainment is in the midst of blurred lines getting blurrier. What defines one medium over the next, film to stage or stage to theme park? These lines will only continue to be blurred as entertainment takes on more immersive qualities. Fringe immersive theater like Sleep No More of 10 years ago is now Disney’s Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser, a hotel, show, experience, adventure that mixes the best of film, theme park production, and theatrical structure and tone. Custom, tailor made experiences will be our future. Total Recall anyone? Will we still have the typical go to mediums? Yes, of course. Theatre has been around since we first gathered around a fire. We’re just adding to the menu. “Would you like to watch a movie, see a show, or be part of the show tonight, honey?”

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