Jared Gooding ’08
A Lifetime Hobby Led to a Career as Lighting Designer
Beginning with running the sound for his 5th grade Spanish class dance, Jared Gooding ’08 has turned his hobby into a thriving career of theatre lighting design. In 2003, Jared entered the 8th grade at The Kinkaid School just as the School had completed its state-of-the-art Katz Performing Arts Center. Jared remembers, “I knew from my initial campus tour that I wanted to be a part of the theatre program. It wasn’t until my senior year when Kinkaid hired Mr. Robert Kreps as a new technical director who had a Masters in lighting design, that I even considered it a career choice rather than a hobby. He gave me great insight and advice on the entire tech theater industry.” While interviewing for The Theatre School at DePaul University, Jared was grateful for the introduction to Mr. Kreps’ long-time friend who was head of the Technical Design program. Jared received his BFA in Lighting Design and Technology from DePaul University in 2012.
Scott Lambert, Kinkaid’s Director of Visual and Performing Arts, remembers Jared fondly, “Jared's commitment to our technical theatre program was always unwavering. Whether it was building a set, serving as a member of the run crew, or running sound or lights for a show, it was always clear that he was eager to learn another aspect of production and always did it with a sense of joy and passion.” Jared enjoyed working on dance shows and pep rallies the most while at Kinkaid. He noted that those were the two kinds of shows where the students were given the most artistic freedom. “The dance shows were such great collaborative experiences because each dancer and lighting designer worked together so closely to create our own vision. Little did I know how great that training was for my future endeavors.”
Jared feels “Kinkaid is a place that will allow and support you in learning about anything. I always felt like I was free to pursue anything of interest to me. I studied robotics, chemistry, photography, video editing, computer coding, weight lifting and photo editing. It felt like if there was something I wanted to know, there would be a teacher ready to support me in seeking out that knowledge whether it was in a class or not.” However, Jared says his most memorable and influential teacher while at Kinkaid was Ms. Kathryn Wade, his 9th grade geometry teacher. “She was probably the only teacher who truly understood me. Since graduating, my parents shared stories about their dealings with her that I was unaware. I realize now she had much more insight than she often let on.” Nurtured by his teachers and mentors at Kinkaid, they taught him that he didn’t necessarily have to “pursue traditional educational or employment tracks to be successful.”
Now primarily based in Chicago, Jared makes a living as a freelance lighting designer. He graduated with outstanding contacts in Chicago’s professional theatre community realizing “it made no sense to try to enter into a new community from scratch.” He continues to grow his resume with a “slow track of continuous growth and networking throughout the city and Midwest region.” While practicing his love of technical theatre, he also manages a DJ entertainment company, a skill he’s had since 10th grade. “I have been able to turn my DJ business into a lucrative income source. I do about 140 events a year which allows me to pursue theater without the need for a traditional day job.”
Jared shares the best part of his job is “the people and friends that I get to work with, create art and tell wonderful stories. Without the amazing minds and people that I am surrounded by, this job wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling.” Jared’s favorite production to date was with the Lookingglass Theater Company in Chicago. Lookingglass Alice is a show the theatre group performs every five years since its premiere. Jared joined the group as assistant lighting designer for its 2015 Chicago production and then toured with the group to Miami and Denver. Specifically, in Denver’s production, his responsibilities grew as the lead designer could not be onsite for the majority of the rehearsal process. Interestingly, he says Lookingglass Alice is, “the only show I truly never get tired of watching, despite the fact that I have seen it over 50 times.”
However, his is biggest career accomplishment has been serving as the Lighting Assistant on NBC’s national broadcast of The Wiz Live in December 2015. Jared spent a month in Long Island, NY on the sound stage, ultimately becoming responsible for the calling and documentation of the spotlight cues.
His advice to others interested in pursuing theatre, “Work on any project you can. This field of lighting - from theater, TV, movies, and concerts - is all about who you know and what you have done. It is very much a ‘right time, right place’ type of job. You just have to be there when it needs to get done.”
Following his own advice, Jared’s career shows no signs of slowing down. Milwaukee Repertory Theater hired him as Lighting Designer for two of the season-opening shows this summer and fall. As a company member of the American Blues Theater, he will also be designing lights for its summer production of The Spitfire Grill.