Monday, March 7, 2011

G-Style Austin Profiles Zach's Scenic Designer Michael Raiford

Via Zach Theatre's Facebook page:Michael Raiford profile G Style magazine Austin

Cover story in G Style magazine, Austin, March-April, 2011:

The Artist's Life

This one-time band geek works his magic onstage and off to create theatrical experiences that immerse audiences in other worlds and, in the process, open their minds.

by Christopher Carbone
photography by Michael Thad Carter

Michael Raiford is a rarity. Deeply passionate about his work in the arts, devoted in the most endearing way to the love of his life of almost 30 years, his husband Todd Logan, forthright in his belief that arts education is a key to a better society, and completely invested in squeezing joy out of every moment, Raiford is the consummate modern-day working artist.

“Iwas always a goofy, creative kid. Being raised in the deep South without a lot of culture around me, it never would have dawned on me that this is something you did,” said Michael Raiford, a set designer locally and nationally for two decades. “Iwould have said, ‘Ihave no idea, none.’”

Raiford taught graduate students at UT in the master of fine arts program and started out as a band geek (he was a drummer in high school). Growing up in Florida and being raised in a conservative Baptist household, he forged his own path.

Even so, the spark for his chosen creative path was rather surprising. Every year in Jack­sonville starting when he was six years old, and continuing for the next six years, the family’s “cultural outing” was a trip to Holiday On Ice. Another version of the Icecapades, each production was a major event. Raiford saved every program and that’s where he fell in love with the showbiz spectacle of theater. “There were these big shows that were a musical review on ice,” Raiford said. “Themed numbers, big costumed shows, and full sets. It was huge and splashy and–gay.”

It was that early-on exposure to and appreciation for over-the-top theatricality that’s allowed him to excel as a set designer for Zach Scott Theatre for almost 20 years.

Click to view full article and photographs in .pdf

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