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Lighting the Way

Lighting the Way

Preston Cross ’18 began his work in technical theater in fifth grade at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School. The show was “Honk Jr.” and Preston took on “whatever they would let me do,” he said. 

By the time he graduated from HIES in 2018, he had completed work for 23 shows, most under the tutelage of Mike Morin, technical director. 

“Holy Innocents’ is very fortunate to have the technical equipment it does,” Preston said. “It’s very current and professional.”

When Preston earned acceptance to Belmont University in Nashville, he also had to interview for his major in production design. His experience at HIES and his portfolio of work played a significant role. 

“Mr. Morin taught me a lot of things that helped me get into Belmont and even held a mock interview with me,” Preston said. “If it had not been for him, I would not have passed that interview.” 

Now he and eight other students in his program meet the creative challenges for approximately eight productions at Belmont per year. Preston has served as assistant set designer, assistant lighting designer, light board operator and master electrician, who is the point person for all lighting at the productions. For his work-study job he builds sets in the scene shop on campus. 

“It’s a challenge to make lighting different for each show, but I enjoy flexing that creative muscle,” he said. 

Returning to campus for the fall semester, Preston will be completing his classes online but will meet with the tech theater team to design lighting for what will be modified productions. Performers will have to be distanced on stage and shows may be livestreamed or recorded/rebroadcast without audiences. 

“We’re still going to get a good experience and make the most of it,” Preston said. 

And, as of this summer, Belmont is scheduled to hold the third and final Presidential Debate on Oct. 22, less than two weeks before Election Day. The tech team is awaiting directions for that event. 

Now a junior, Preston is set to graduate in 2022 with a BFA. He hopes to become a lighting designer or master electrician for a theater. He is also considering teaching.

“As a student, Preston embodied everything we were striving for with the program,” Mr. Morin said. “He was a good leader and a role model for the younger students as well as very creative and hardworking. He has always shown an aptitude to think on his feet and address a problem before it happens.”