Owen joined Charcoalblue with twenty years of professional experience in the performing arts, having worked as a lighting designer, production manager, technical director, electrician and stagehand. He was the Technical Director (2003-2005) and then Production Manager (2005-2016) of the award-winning St. Ann’s Warehouse, presenting the work of world-renowned companies such as the Donmar Warehouse, Druid Theater Company, National Theatre of Scotland, TR Warszawa, Kneehigh Theatre, the Wooster Group and Mabou Mines, as well as live concerts featuring such artists as Lou Reed, John Cale, Roseanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones and Aimee Mann.
During his tenure at St. Ann’s Warehouse, Owen was also a key member of the design team that oversaw the build out and outfitting of two temporary spaces, and the construction and outfitting of the company’s new and permanent theatre which opened in 2015.
As a freelance Production Manager or Lighting Supervisor, he has toured productions to festivals and theatres across Europe and Asia. A recipient of a 2003 New York Dance and Performance Award (“Bessie”) for Lighting Design, he has lit dozens of theatre and dance productions, as well as opera and concerts at venues around New York City.
Owen's consultancy work for Charcoalblue includes the ambitious new home for TheatreSquared in Northwest Arkansas and New Orleans' Southern Rep Theatre.
An example of Owen's lighting design.
Owen and the New York team, Summer 2017.
Owen celebrates with some of the team at our Christmas Party, 2017.
What's the greatest lesson you've learnt as a Theatre Consultant?
I'm still learning every day, which is perhaps the greatest lesson. Every theatre, every artist, every audience member is different, has different expectations, different aspirations and different priorities. An engaged and attentive conversation not only makes our work on their project stronger, it makes us stronger theatre consultants.
What first sparked your love of theatre or performing arts?
While not one of my earliest memories of theatre, seeing Peter Brooks' production of The Tempest when I was growing up in Zurich, Switzerland was hugely influential in making me a designer for theatre. The sparing use of a very few elements such as a circle of sand, some silk butterflies on bamboo switches; these created the whole island. And my favourite memories in the theatre have always been those moments when a stripping away reveals a moment of real truth and beauty.
What qualities should a 'great performance space' have?
Great performance spaces can all have good acoustics, a harmonious volume, first rate technical facilities, a welcoming lobby, comfortable seating, etc. and they should strive to have all of those. But a great performance space must have a character, a soul, a vibe and an identity all its own. If it has that, great performances will happen there, regardless of how spartan the accomodations may be. And if it doesn't, no matter how well appointed, something will always feel lacking.
St. Ann's Warehouse has made its home in a neighbourhood between two of the noisiest transport thoroughfares in the City – the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges – which presented a challenge.