A year ago, Matt Leddin wanted to be a speaker at TEDxNavesink. Though ultimately he wasn’t selected, his proposed talk on the technical aspects of theater caught the team’s attention, and they brought him onboard to design the set and manage the stage.

If you can’t give the talk, you might as well create a memorable backdrop for other speakers. So in a way, Matt did get a chance to share his idea worth spreading—visually instead of verbally.

Matt’s stage design career started back in the sixth grade, with a similar situation. After watching his older sister act in high school plays, Matt fell in love with theater and auditioned for his middle school’s play.

Out of 12 adolescents who auditioned, 11 were selected for the cast. The one left out? Matt. Still eager to be involved with the play, Matt joined the technical crew and helped design and build the set.

He continued his behind-the-scenes work through high school at Rumson-Fair Haven and for student theaters at Rutgers. Don’t worry, Matt did get time on stage acting in a few productions through the years, but set design and production were his passion.

Matt Leddin

Matt Leddin

Today, Matt is a history teacher at his alma mater, Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School, and designs and builds sets at venues throughout New Jersey and New York.

“I can tell you that there is a tremendous amount of pride that comes from creating something like a set that comes not from completing the task, but watching others enjoy it,” Matt said. “I love watching the look in the actors’ eyes when the stage is suddenly transformed into the jungle, castle, or town they have been imagining for weeks. I love when the audience is amazed by a sudden reveal or when a simple change of color amplifies the emotions of the scene tenfold.”

Matt’s design concept for TEDxNavesink Makers was a highlight of the event, and he discusses the set concept in the video below.

What do Matt and his team have in mind for TEDxNavesink Identity in 2017? Well, you’ll have to be there to find out. Reserve your tickets today.

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