Meet Travis McHale, Lighting and Scenic Designer for Holiday Memories

Meet Travis McHale, Lighting and Scenic Designer for Holiday Memories

This week, we caught up with Travis McHale, the lighting and set designer for our production of Holiday Memories. In between working on lights and adding some finishing touching to the set, Travis was able to sit down with us, talk about his theatre experience thus far and also his work on Holiday Memories. 


Travis attended The University of North Carolina School of the Arts where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Lighting Design and took as many classes as he possible could in scenic design. After his time at School of the Arts, Travis went right to New York. “In all of our crafts, you can only learn by doing,” Travis advises, “I just poured myself into it.” Since then, Travis has worked on many different professional and educational stages and we are lucky enough to welcome him back to ours. 


Travis's early renderings for the Holiday Memories set.

With this show specifically, Travis told us the design process wasn’t easy because the play lives in memory. He explained that “because there was no great piece of research that unlocked the imagery of the show for me, this one I invented.” Travis tasked himself with creating the internal world that lays within Capote’s storytelling to connect with the external world that would play out on stage in front of us. “The story is fluid and it is all about memory; we don’t want to see a huge house trucked on and off the stage.” So instead of having all these moving set pieces, Travis uses lighting to differentiate between events at the time of the play and memories. It moves us through the story and creates a childlike sense of wonder. Travis also mentioned that the window/stove area is his favorite set piece because it does the most storytelling. 


Travis left our students with some advice: “See as much theatre as you can and work as much theatre as you can, even if it is not your primary focus,” he states, “Oh, and go be as human as much as possible” . He explains how this is crucial, since our job is to talk about the human condition, it can only deepen your knowledge to help you better function as a theatre artist. Even though Travis admits that finding a balance between work and your personal life will probably always be a struggle, he talks about setting limits for yourself. “For me, I stop answering emails and phones at a certain point in the day. If I want to lay on the couch with my family and scratch my cat, I make time for that.” Travis jokes and turns around to continue working on focusing lights. 


Check out more of Travis's work at and make sure to stay tuned for more features on the professional artists that visit Auburn University Theatre. We proudly welcome several guest artists throughout the year that enrich the theatrical experiences of both the students and faculty.

Last Updated: November 12, 2018