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Alumnus Designs Massive Revolving Set Piece for Prometheus Bound

September 26, 2013
KCET

By Liz Ohanesian

Reinventing the Wheel with Efren Delgadillo, Jr.

The Getty Villa's annual outdoor theater performance is part of an innovative theater program that enhances the visitor's experience of the ancient world. "Prometheus Bound," produced by CalArts' Center for New Performance (CNP), in association with Trans Arts, is the eighth annual outdoor theater production in the Getty Villa's Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman Theater, September 5-28, 2013.

When Efren Delgadillo, Jr. first began work on his MFA at California Institute of the Arts, he caught a performance of Baal, the Bertolt Brecht play. By the end of the night, he had flipped over both the play and the school. "I have no idea what it was about. I was totally confused," says Delgadillo. "I felt excited, but totally inferior."

That's something that Delgadillo likes to impart on his students now. "It's okay not to know what happened," he says. "It's an event and it affects you."

Delgadillo's job is devising a visual plan to suck you into the drama or comedy on stage. He does this professionally. He shares his knowledge in the classes he teaches at CalArts and inside the scene shop he runs at California State University Northridge. Most recently, Delgadillo is known as the set designer responsible for Prometheus' wheel in Prometheus Bound. In this latest version of the ancient play, the great Titan appears before the audience tied to a massive wheel, his sentence for passing fire along to humans. The unusual approach to Prometheus Bound has won praise from critics. In part, that's due to Delgadillo's work in creating the stage's centerpiece. Director Travis Preston brought him into the project in May of 2012 and Delgadillo has spent more than a year obsessively crafting the perfect wheel. "It's been a crazy ride. Amazing, but crazy," says Delgadillo. It also took 15 designs to get that wheel just right.

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