Kelly O'Connell: designing, building, and installing educational theaters

How does an educational theater end up with a masterfully designed rigging system, or non-standard lighting equipment that perfectly suits it?  How do school districts maximize what they can provide for their students when renovating or building a space, or adding to their inventory?  Our guest Kelly O'Connell, Lighting Systems Designer for YES Theatrical Service & Supply, has the answers.

In our interview, Kelly explains in depth how she works with architects, general contractors, and electrical contractors to make projects happen and get her clients what they need.  We discussed how she manages everyone in the chain, from drama teachers to administrators to boards to contractors.  Kelly's extensive and varied experience in lighting design, production management, and architecture prepared her well for this job, which can involve anything from a $50 gel package to a $500,000 lighting system.

We also discussed her path into theater, starting with an unexpected turn designing lighting for a production of Aeschylus' Agamemnon at 13, and the company she works for.  YES, or Young Equipment Sales, began 46 years ago as a locker company.  Their relationship–based, customized service gave them opportunities to grow into nearly every part of educational sales and service, finally reaching auditoriums and theaters in 2015.

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