GHS grad provides an inside look at live theater
When he gives directions to his house, freelance set designer Dean Patch always includes the “can’t miss” instruction: “Look for the four-by-eight-foot train sitting on the front lawn.”
The train, a prop he made while working for Georgetown Palace Theatre as set designer for The Music Man, offers a glimpse into his creatively unconventional personality as well as his passion for theater.
How’d you get involved in theater?
During my sophomore year at Georgetown High School, [a friend] encouraged me to audition for the school’s production of Into the Woods, and I landed the role of the wolf. It was a good time. I had on the most makeup out of anybody in the show; that’s when I started learning how to do stage makeup.
What’s involved in designing sets?
In theater, you learn to wear a lot of hats. I got my degree in theatrical design and technology from Texas State University, where I learned about scenic design, costuming, stage makeup, lighting, sound, props design, and carpentry. Aside from the degree, you have to understand how to compromise. It’s the director’s show; you have a big part in it, but ultimately, you have to create something that appeals to the director.
Why do you like designing a set?
I enjoy being able to make something out of nothing. It’s nice to see a design fully actualized and utilized as a workable space. Even if, after weeks of planning, design, and construction, the set only lasts a few days during the show’s run, it’s still worth the effort because, as a designer, the greatest pleasure is having your art enjoyed by others.
What do you wish more people knew about live theater?
There’s more to theater than what you see during a performance. There’s also the time it takes to study your lines and to design and build a set. Sometimes things aren’t perfect, but you learn to be flexible and work with what you’ve got. If you can do that, you’ll be perfectly fine doing anything you’ve set out to do.
Upcoming at the Palace Theatre this fall:
Young Frankenstein, October 9–November 8
Beauty and the Beast, November 20–December 30