Lighting Design – Practical Technical Theater DVD Series


NOW THAT WE’VE DISCUSSED,
DEMONSTRATED, ANALYZED, AND CREATED
THE DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF DESIGNING LIGHTS FOR A SHOW,
LET’S DO THIS AGAIN, BUT IN A LITTLE LARGER THEATER.
WE’RE IN MID-TOWN ST. LOUIS AT THE GRANDEL THEATRE.
LET’S GO INSIDE AND TAKE A LOOK. THE GRANDEL IS A FORMER CHURCH
THAT WAS RENOVATED BY GRAND CENTER
INTO A 2-LEVEL, 467-SEAT THEATER IN 1992.
IT’S AN ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL SPACE
AND REALLY MAKES A WONDERFUL PLACE
TO PRODUCE ANY KIND OF SHOW, BUT PARTICULARLY CLASSIC SHOWS
LIKE “RICHARD III,” WHICH IS CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION
BY ST. LOUIS SHAKESPEARE. LET’S WALK THROUGH THE PROCESS
I WENT THROUGH DESIGNING LIGHTS FOR THIS
PRODUCTION OF “RICHARD III.” THE FIRST THING I DID WAS
MEET WITH ROBIN WEATHERALL, THE DIRECTOR OF THE PLAY.
ROBIN SPENT 17 YEARS WITH THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY
AND TOURED AS A DRUMMER WITH JOE COCKER
AND OTHER MUSICAL ACTS IN THE 1970s. WE MET SEVERAL TIMES AND TALKED
ABOUT SOME OF THE THINGS HE SAW IN HIS CONCEPT
OF THE SHOW. I TOOK NOTES ABOUT HOW ROBIN
SOMETIMES WANTED SCENES TO BE DARK AND MOODY,
SOMETIMES BRIGHT AND DECEPTIVELY CHEERFUL.
TELL ME, WHAT THEY DESERVE THAT DO CONSPIRE MY…
FOR ANYONE UNFAMILIAR WITH THE PLAY,
RICHARD III IS ONE OF THE THEATER’S
ALL-TIME GREAT VILLAINS. IN HIS NO-HOLDS-BARRED MARCH
TO THE THRONE, HE KILLS HIS BROTHERS,
HIS COUSINS, HIS SISTER-IN-LAW, HIS FRIENDS, AND EVEN HIS 10-
AND 8-YEAR-OLD NEPHEWS. IN ADDITION TO BEING TRULY
EVIL INSIDE, RICHARD HAS A WITHERED ARM,
A HUNCHED BACK, AND A DEFORMED LEG.
I WANTED A SINISTER FEELING FOR MUCH OF THE SHOW,
AND I ALSO TOLD BOB I WANTED THE ENTIRE PLAY
TO HAVE A COLD, WINTER-LIKE FEEL TO IT.
I GAVE BOB A SCENE BREAKDOWN, WITH WHAT TIME OF DAY I WANTED
EACH SCENE TO TAKE PLACE, THE LOCATION OF EACH SCENE,
AND ANY PRELIMINARY IDEAS I HAD FOR WHAT KIND OF LOOK I SAW
FOR EACH OF THE SCENES. MY FIRST JOB WAS TO READ
THE SCRIPT FOR ENJOYMENT, THEN I WOULD RE-READ THE SCRIPT,
MAKING NOTES ABOUT HOW I FELT DURING THE SECOND READING,
THEN MAKING MORE SPECIFIC NOTES ABOUT IDEAS
THAT MIGHT OR MIGHT NOT WORK AS I READ THE PLAY
A THIRD AND FOURTH TIME. I VISITED THE GRANDEL,
LOOKED AROUND, AND GOT A BLANK GROUND PLAN
FROM THE GRANDEL SHOWING LIGHTING POSITIONS
AND OUTLETS, ALONG WITH THE INFO
ABOUT HOW MANY DIMMERS, TYPES OF INSTRUMENTS, AND THE
TYPE OF CONTROLLER THEY HAVE. THE NEXT THING I DID
WAS ATTEND REHEARSAL FOR THE FIRST RUN-THROUGH
OF THE PLAY AND TAKE NOTES ABOUT WHERE
ACTION TOOK PLACE, HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE ON STAGE
AT ANY GIVEN TIME, AND JOT DOWN FURTHER IDEAS I HAD
ABOUT LIGHTING THE SHOW. I MADE 1/4″ GROUND PLANS
OF THE STAGE AND SET, MARKED WHEN AND WHERE
CHARACTERS MOVED, AND STARTED FINALIZING HOW
I WOULD LIGHT THE SHOW. I RECHECKED THESE IDEAS
AT OTHER RUN-THROUGHS, AND I FINALLY
HAD ENOUGH MATERIAL TO START MY HANGING PLOT.
SINCE I HAD A RENDERING OF THE SET AND A COSTUME COLOR PALATE,
AND NONE OF THE COLORS WERE UNUSUAL,
EVERYTHING WAS GOOD WITH THE OTHER DESIGNERS. BOB AND I DECIDED
THAT THE STAGE NEEDED TO BE DIVIDED UP INTO
SEVERAL MAJOR AREAS. FIRST, WE NEEDED THREE AREAS
DOWNSTAGE THAT COULD BE LIT
INDIVIDUALLY. NEXT, WE WANTED TO BE ABLE
TO LIGHT THE AREA OF THE STAGE WHERE THE FLAGSTONE FLOOR WAS,
AND WE NEEDED TO LIGHT IT IN A COOL COLOR, A WHITE
NO-COLOR, A BLUE BACK LIGHT, A FLAME BACK LIGHT.
THE AREAS FAR OFF TO EITHER SIDE OF THE STAGE
WOULD ONLY BE USED OCCASIONALLY AND NEEDED TO BE
CONTROLLED INDIVIDUALLY. ALL OTHER AREAS
WOULD BE LIT BY SPECIALS. FOR EXAMPLE, THE OPENING
OF THE PLAY TAKES PLACE WITH THE CORONATION
OF KING EDWARD IV AND IS LIT
WITH GENERAL ILLUMINATION, OR G.I. IN THE FLAGSTONE AREA
AND THE SIDE AREAS. AS EVERYONE EXITED, RICHARD
IS LEFT ALONE ON STAGE TO TALK TO THE AUDIENCE IN WHAT
IS CALLED A SOLILOQUY. BOB AND I WANTED THE STAGE
TO BE DARK EXCEPT FOR A SHAFT OF LIGHT
WHERE RICHARD WAS SPEAKING. WE WANTED TO PLACE THE ACTION
SO THE AUDIENCE KNEW EXACTLY WHERE TO LOOK,
AND THEY GOT THE FEELING THAT RICHARD
WAS TALKING DIRECTLY TO THEM.
WHAT I DID TO ACCOMPLISH THE G.I.
WAS TO DIVIDE THE STAGE INTO 11 AREAS ON MY HANGING PLOT,
WITH TWO TO THREE LIGHTING INSTRUMENTS COVERING EACH AREA.
AREAS “A,” “B,” AND “C” WERE COVERED FROM THE FIRST
ELECTRIC

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