For the past few years, Ben Swope ’99 has been lighting up Broadway—currently as associate lighting designer for The Realistic Joneses, “an outrageous, inside look at the people who live next door, the truths we think we know, and the secrets we never imagined we all might share.” His earlier Broadway productions include Fela! which tells the story of the great Nigerian musician Fela Kuti through his songs and the choreography of Bill T. Jones, and Ann, a one-woman show about Ann Richards, the Texas Democrat who jabbed that George W. Bush “was born with a silver foot in his mouth” during the 1988 Democratic national convention.
Swope majored in theatre design and production at Keene State, specializing in lighting design, and his career path has obviously paid off. “I am proud to say that between that study and the personal experience I brought to KSC, I was able to begin working professionally immediately after graduating in 1999,” Swope said, “first as an intern at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in Williamstown, MA, and then as the production electrician at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston where I oversaw crews installing and setting the lighting for the productions.”
Always looking to expand his horizons, Swope went on to earn an MFA at NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts. “My career in the theatrical lighting industry is broad and expands beyond the bounds of theatre,” Swope explained. “I am part of a team of designers who light retail windows for Tiffany’s flagship store on Fifth Ave. in NYC as well as for the Barney’s store and Cole Haan’s flagship at Rockefeller Center. I have also worked as an assistant to a few architectural lighting designers. … In 2013, I visited 11 countries as the lighting designer and production supervisor for the Battery Dance Company’s Dance to Connect program, which takes dance and movement to underserved communities in all corners of the world. Our 2013 tour included Greece, Romania, Hungary, Georgia, Macedonia, Malta, Germany, Laos, Thailand, and Nigeria. It is one of the most exciting opportunities this career has offered as I am able to visit places I would otherwise not likely visit.”
Sounds like a rewarding career, doesn’t it? “I’m proud to have made it where I am today and hope I can continue to grow personally and professionally,” Swope said.