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Design and production experience lights the way for theater grad

Krys Newbury standing with hands on hips in front of theater seats

Krys Newbury is following a lifelong passion by graduating with a bachelor’s degree in theater (design and production) from ASU's School of Music, Dance and Theatre, before heading to California, where they will intern as a scenic design assistant for Pacific Conservatory Theatre.

December 13, 2022
Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2022 graduates.

Krys Newbury is graduating from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in theater (design and production) from the School of Music, Dance and Theatre. In January, theyNewbury uses they/them pronouns. will head to California, where they will intern as a scenic design assistant for Pacific Conservatory Theatre. They will stay through summer as a lighting design assistant. After that, they’re not sure what the future holds, but they know they want to experience theater in different places. 

“Long term, I want to travel and work in different places and figure out where I want to settle down,” Newbury said.

Newbury’s emphasis was on lighting design. They worked on several ASU productions, including “Healing Wars,” “La Comedia of Errors” and “The Wolves.”

“I think my favorite ASU show to work on was ‘La Comedia of Errors,’” they said. “I really enjoyed the people that I worked with on that show.”

Newbury said they enjoy lighting design because it allows them to collaborate with other areas of theater.

“The thing that I like about lighting design is I get to have this conceptual artistic side, but there's also a lot of programming and organizational skills,” they said. “It's artistic, but it's also technical.”

Newbury said they have loved theater since childhood. Inspired by seeing a show by Spotlight Youth Theatre, they couldn’t wait to take classes.

“I loved it and thought it was so cool,” they said. “I decided when I got into high school to take a theater class almost every semester.”

After high school, Newbury attended nearby Glendale Community College and took a year off from theater, but they really missed it.

“My second year, I decided to major in theater because I loved it,” they said. “I really enjoy storytelling and the people that I’ve met doing theater. I realized, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’”

They transferred to Mesa Community College to study technical theater and planned to pursue a bachelor’s degree outside of Arizona. Then the pandemic hit. 

“The world was in chaos,” Newbury said. “I knew ASU had a great theater program, so this is where I came after I finished my associate degree.”

Newbury shared what surprised them about ASU, the lessons they learned from professors, their advice for those still in school and what world problem they would like to help solve.

Q: What is something you learned about ASU that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I think this is something that's more specific to my program, but I learned that there's a really great queer community of people here at ASU, and that's not something that I was expecting or looking for when I came here. I've met plenty of queer people working in theater, but here there were a lot of queer people my age and that I related to. That was something that really surprised me, and it has made a huge impact on me.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson at ASU?

A: The first one would be William Kirkham. He's my mentor, and something he taught me is that there's not one way to do everything. During my educational career I've had several different mentors, and he really focused on, ‘What are the things that you want in your life that are going to make you happy?’ He's really taught me to look at my life in a different way, and how my career fits into my life.

I took a stage management class with Katie Peavey, and the thing she said about theater is that we are grown adults facilitating other grown adults playing make-believe. Sometimes people take theater as being like this really super serious thing when it doesn't need to be that all the time. I'm a person with really high anxiety, so that has made the way in which I approach my work a little bit different — to realize that not everything is the end of the world.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are still in school?

A: Have fun. Enjoy these years of your life, and don't just waste all of your time being so worried about school constantly. I did that for so long, and in the last year or two, I decided that I wanted to have more fun with my life and make friends and go out.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem, what would it be?

A:  Oh, that's hard. There are so many problems and not nearly enough money. Something I'm really passionate about is environmental science. There are a lot of issues with pollution and trash in our world and how we handle creating reusable resources. I think that moving forward, that's something that's really important for our generation to focus on. That would be the issue that I would spend money trying to solve and help with.