Posting Date: October 16, 2013
Meet Joel Hicks: Renaissance Man
By Tanya Brown
Photo by Shane McDonald
If Joel Hicks isn’t pondering Chinese philosophy concepts, he might be hard at work crafting a golden sword, making an antique musket or carving intricate details on a walking cane before finishing his Media Studies homework.
Originally from the Boston area, Joel’s family moved to Georgia in 2007, and Joel debated a major in Geology before settling on a double major in Theatre and Communications, primarily because all the electives that intrigued him seemed to be in the Theatre department.
As a student assistant for the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies’ Technical Director Kenyon Shiver, Joel works about 15 hours a week at the Chastain Pointe Scene Shop, where power tools line the walls and work tables stand ready for the creative collaboration that takes place to produce props, backdrops, sets and furniture for all of KSU's theatre productions.
Joel’s first experience with the Scene Shop came from taking the Stagecraft class, which acting students are required to take, just as scene technicians take Acting I, “so they will both know and appreciate the skills involved in each area,” explains Joel.
While scene technicians can create everything from backdrops to furniture, Joel admits prop making is his favorite task. “I’m a detail person — I really get excited when I’m handed something small I can be detailed with.”
Shiver seconds Joel’s comments, saying that, “his attention to detail is impressive; when a particular piece is to be built, I can just give him the parameters and leave him alone. I can depend on the guy. He’s very good at being meticulous.”
At the end of the spring 2013 semester, the Scene Shop was busy cleaning up and breaking down sets and backdrops to reclaim lumber and supplies for use in other productions, but props like the ones Joel has made were carefully put in storage.
Joel believes one of the best aspects of his job in the Scene Shop is the autonomy he has: “I love that I get taught to do hands-on learning. Applied learning is the best kind because I get to figure stuff out on my own.” Joel admires Shiver’s skill and guidance and says, “He’s been very supportive. He’s not the kind of person to say ‘you’re doing it wrong’ – He’ll ask us what we think and let us come up with ideas.”
As graduation looms closer, Joel muses about future plans; he thinks that 3D prosthetics are “really cool,” but he also likes costuming and making props for LARP — live action role playing. If his dream job at WETA Workshop beckoned, he “would totally move to New Zealand” for the chance to work with the company that designed the physical effects for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. But for now, it’s back to work on the details that make the show go on.