By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Northborough – Emily McCourt and Eamon Pac of Northborough worked together on theater production crews before they began dating. Married since September 26, 2015, they’re now collaborating as lighting and set designers respectively for the play “Tribes” by Nina Raine, to be presented by Worcester’s oldest active theater company. Founded in 1937 as the Worcester County Light Opera Company (WCLOC), it’s now known as the WCLOC Theater Company.
The couple met while each worked in the scenery shop at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, where McCourt graduated in 2010.
“We found that we had a really good working relationship,” McCourt said. “Eamon and I are similar in a lot of ways but also different, so we complement each other.”
Their working relationship grew in the summer of 2009. They clocked many hours daily when the Redfeather Theatre Company presented Shakespearean productions in Green Hill Park. It was a pleasant workplace, Pac noted.
“The whole setting was a magical environment,” he said. “It’s the summertime and you’re transported into this fantastic world of Shakespeare. We worked together nonstop for about 12 to 16 hours every day. We developed a relationship and understanding of each other.”
Together for almost six years and married for several months, they feel that their working relationship continues to grow with minor differences. Before getting romantically involved, they’d settle issues regarding set and lights at a later rehearsal, Pac noted.
“Now that we’re married we go home together, so you can’t always just ‘sleep on it’; you need to flesh things out,” he said.
Designing for “Tribes” marks the first time that each has worked at WCLOC. After working with several Boston-area theater groups, McCourt feels that she and Pac are welcomed.
“It’s fun to come into this group of people and to be accepted by them,” she said. “They’re very friendly and excited to work together – and that’s the whole point of theater.”
The WCLOC website describes the “Tribes” synopsis: “Born deaf into an argumentative academic family, Billy was pushed to assimilate into the hearing world as best he could by reading lips and staying out of the way. But when a young woman introduces him to the deaf community, Billy decides it is time his family learns to communicate with him on his terms.”
The designers needed to be particularly mindful of the play’s subject matter, McCourt noted.
“A deaf person communicating with people was a huge element of designing the show’s lights and set,” she explained. “There are performances that are interpreted, so we had to keep in mind how to focus on an interpreter, but also not to distract from the performances. There are also moments that are subtitled with projection, so we had to keep in mind where to project and not have that be a distraction.”
According to WCLOC’s website, “After many years of utilizing various performance venues throughout the city, it was in 1948 that WCLOC acquired its permanent home at 21 Grandview Ave., Worcester. This acquisition has been a major contributor to WCLOC’s longevity.”
McCourt and Pac strived for their designs to complement WCLOC’s longtime performance space.
“Part of the stage design for us was blending the aesthetic of what was maybe someone’s house many years ago,” Pac explained. “It’s really a wonderful jewel of Worcester.”
Directed by Eric Butler, “Tribes” will run from Feb. 5 through 14 at the Grandview Playhouse. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays, and Thursday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m.; and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. For tickets, call 508-753-4383 or visit wcloc.org. This program is supported in part by a grant from the Worcester Arts Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.