Spotlight on Alumni: Kyle Morton
Since Graduation, Kyle Morton (BFA 2014 Production/ Design, with a minor in History) has taken a different path than he expected: straight away he got a job working as an Engineering Assistant working to help develop LED lighting fixtures, where a 3 month contract turned into an 8 month contract. “And the next thing I knew I was a salaried employee traveling around North America selling Entertainment technology to theatres, concert venues, theme parks, any cool companies that were entertaining people!” In his spare time (what little he has, now-a-days) he works as a lighting designer, mostly working with a very exciting Urban Dance Company called Breakin’ Ground, with whom he has produced two shows, Urban Legend and Urban Myth.
Do you have any advice or tips for York students just entering the department?
Take advantage of every opportunity you get. The York Theatre Department has an incredible amount to offer you, but you will only get as much out of the program as you put into it. If you sit back on your heels, the next four years could fly right past you and all you will be left with is a piece of paper to show for it. However, if you pour yourself into the program, and into the people, you will leave with a wealth of knowledge, great friends, and great future colleagues—plus you will have had a ton of fun along the way!
What surprised you about York/Theatre Department during your first month or year?
How quickly it changed my mind. When I auditioned for York, I auditioned as an actor. When I started classes at York, I was going to be an Actor. One month into school, I wanted nothing more than to get into the Production Program. When you start at York they warn you not to get your mind set on any particular stream, but every year more than half the class is dead set on being an actor and close their minds off to any other options. So did I, to be fair, until crew started and I was hanging lights for Ti-Jean and his Brothers in the Joseph G. Green Theatre. Had someone told me a week before I started University that I would CHOOSE to try for production instead of acting, I would have looked at them like they had two heads.
What did you learn in any of your Theatre courses that you’ve used in a non-theatre situation?
It became quite apparent, when I graduated and started working, that the skills I learned studying theatre at York were going to work greatly to my advantage. My first job out of school was working as an Engineering assistant working to develop new LED lighting fixtures, and it is safe to say I was way out of my depths in that job. However, as Peter McKinnon told me in my first year at York, “We are going to teach you how to learn, because you are never going to stop having to learn”, and he was right. Along with all of the practical knowledge you learn from York, I learned how to keep learning, keep listening and never assuming I can’t do something just because I hadn’t done it before.
Another really important thing that I learned that has been very valuable in my working and day-to-day (non-theatre) life is the ability to work with people to accomplish a common goal. Building a show with a group of people who, for the most part, were as lost as you, made it so much easier for me to jump from University life into “Real” life. Going through the long days and nights trying to get a show together, working with so many people who were struggling and learning along the way with you, was a great representation and preparation for what it was going to be like after school as people struggle with finding work, and themselves, post grad.
What did you learn at York that has been of greatest value?
“When you are the new guy at a job, keep your mouth shut, work hard, listen and learn.” This was advice given to my class by James McKernan. That piece of advice, which when he first told us it seemed pretty unimportant to a 2nd year student, turned out to be the best advice I received during my education at York. Coming out of University I felt like, and I know many people who feel the same, that I knew so much and was prepared for anything theatre could throw at me. I was very wrong. So instead of trying to show off the small sliver of knowledge I had, I kept my mouth shut and kept learning from industry professionals, in doing that I probably learned as much in the two years I have been out of university as I did in my 4 years at York.