To celebrate Women’s History Month, HUDSON is shining a spotlight on some of the incredible women that call Hudson Scenic Studio home. Today we are spotlighting two women from the Automation and Rental Departments: Dani Wegman-Wolber (Assistant Foreperson Automation & Electrics) and Kasey Flower (Rentals). We chatted with them about their work at Hudson, favorite projects, and advice for young women breaking into the industry.
The interviews below have been edited for clarity/length.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your career path, how did you end up at Hudson?
DWW: I went to college for theater as a lighting design major. I learned pretty quickly that I didn’t want to do that, so I moved to Lighting Direction/Production Manager track. I was probably Purchase [College]’s first and only ‘make your own major’. Before I was in my senior year, I opted to take the Local One Apprenticeship test because my (now) husband was already an apprentice and I decided to do it as a backup plan. I met Dave Rosenfeld [Hudson’s Electrical Foreman] at the Purchase Portfolio Showcase and he found out I was on the apprenticeship list and Hudson asked for me. That’s how I ended up at Hudson in the first place. From there I looked for opportunities to learn and move up. So, if something needed to be done, I did it. If somebody had to learn how to do something because nobody else would, I did it. Eventually I just worked my way up to where I am now.
KF: I went to City Tech for technical theater, and then did the freelancing thing for a while, mostly lighting. I then did an apprenticeship for Local One here at Hudson and then I just stayed.
Q: What is a typical day like for you on the shop floor?
DWW: I am the Assistant Foreperson for Automation and Electrics here at Hudson. I oversee the fabrication arm of the automation and set electrics departments. My day to day varies in a big way. For instance, today I am helping commission an automation system for a tour, but on another day maybe I am prepping set electrics, or maybe I am going on site to help put in a show or fix a show. My day to day varies a lot and I like it that way. I like when it is not the same day in and day out.
KF: It’s a little different every day, some days we do our motor inspection, some days we’re rigging in the set up building, we will do check outs for rentals, we take care of all of the rental gear for automation. It is a little bit of everything.
Q: What is the most challenging part of your job? The most interesting?
DWW: the most interesting part of my job is making things work. So, taking a pile of parts and turning it into a panel which turns into a control system and actually seeing machines move and scenery move and making things happen like that. The most challenging part of my job is the sequencing. I am part of our on call support team so when things go wrong at theaters, I could be the one on the end of the phone making sure we are figuring out a solution that is safe and workable and gets the show back up and running. Set electrics wise-- it’s not where a lot of my strengths lie, so figuring that stuff out is always challenging to me. Its interesting, I like learning about it, but it’s definitely the most challenging for me.
KF: There’s a lot of problem solving and troubleshooting that has to happen especially with the rigging. Figuring out how to hang things or fixing gear and stuff; that’s the most interesting.
Q: Do you have a favorite project you’ve worked on at Hudson?
DWW: I really liked working on the Times Square Ball! That was a good one. I had done production in Times Square for a couple of years before I came to Hudson, so being on the other end of it was really interesting to me. I really loved Aladdin in London because I got to go install it in London and be there for three months. It was all new equipment, so we started from literal parts in a box and took it all the way up to a fully functioning finished show so that was a really proud moment for me.
KF: Probably [our recent Theme Park work], we got to hang that and actually got to climb around inside of it, that was a lot of fun. It was very different [than our other work].
Q: Do you have any advice for young women who are interested in this type of career?
DWW: I would say that you shouldn’t ever think just because you’re training or your background is in one thing, doesn’t mean you can’t do something else with it. My background was in lighting, and I took the electrical knowledge I had from that and I found automation. I didn’t even know that was a thing I could be doing, and it is such a better fit for me than lighting was. Don’t think just because you thought you were going to do one thing you can’t change course and do another and be good at it and excel in your field. Don’t let people tell you otherwise.
KF: I would say if you find yourself somewhere where you are not being appreciated or they’re treating you differently because you are a woman, look elsewhere because there are plenty of places where that won’t be the case. As long as you have the talent you can do whatever you want.