Apr 13, 2010

Creating Scenery: Tyson Long

by Karissa Sechrist

Tyson Long has been bringing the stage to life through sets, lighting and technical effects as the Technical Director for the Liberty University Theatre Department since 2007.

Long is currently working on “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” which will open on April 16.

“The most stressful part is making sure that everything gets done and that all of the details are covered,” Long said.

From the basic idea of the set to the moment it is completed, Long works many hours each week to be ready for every show. He also oversees students in everything from carpentry to painting as the set is assembled.

“I have learned how much work it really is to create a set for a show. It takes all kinds of strength and abilities,” senior Jodi Orndorff said. “(Long) has shown me that being a hard worker and putting in the time really does pay off to create a rewarding experience.”

Long’s job requires him to work creatively and quickly under pressure.

“On the Sunday night before the final week of rehearsal for “An Inspector Calls” Professor Neal Brasher and I decided that the current set would not work for the show. I went home that night and completely re-designed the set, getting it approved by noon the next day and re-building the basic set by 5 p.m. — just in time for rehearsal,” Long said.

Long began his theater career in fifth grade at the small private school he attended. Each year, the principal of the school would involve all of the students in the spring play. Long painted sets and helped out wherever he could. Later on, he and his family moved to Ohio, where Long was put in charge of his school’s drama productions in eighth grade.

Long later attended Pensacola Christian College and then Bob Jones University, where he received his master’s degree in cinema and video production.

“He is very dedicated to his job, by making sure that everything is exact and paying attention to all of the details,” Theater Manager Amanda Poch said.

Long draws his inspiration from research and books on set design. For “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” he has studied material on castles, the Kremlin and even Versailles.

Long’s favorite part of each show is the opening week when he finally gets to step back and enjoy the fruits of his labor.
“During the show I turn it over almost entirely to the students,” Long said.

“The best part is when the actors get it, and their entire world comes together. Actors may rehearse and do their homework but they often don’t get it until they are under the lights, in their costumes and the set is there,” Long said.

According to Long, his job is also a learning process which will only grow as the department moves to the new Tower Theatre, which is currently in the final stages of construction with plans to open in the fall.

Contact Karissa Sechrist at

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