White Light brightens You Stupid Darkness!
Tuesday, 28 January 2020
you-stupid-darkness-ali-wrightYou Stupid Darkness! recently opened at the Southwark Playhouse (photo: Ali Wright)
UK - White Light has supplied the lighting for You Stupid Darkness!, which recently opened at the Southwark Playhouse in London.
Presented by Paines Plough and Theatre Royal Plymouth, You Stupid Darkness! is a new play set within the Brightline Call Centre. It focusses on four colleagues who try to keep their lives together whilst the outside world falls apart.
The lighting designer on the show is Peter Small, who comments: “My brief for this production was that it shouldn’t feel ‘lit’; meaning I wanted it to feel as natural as possible to the audience. The concept was that you had sort of peeled the wall off this strange office and were peering in from a dark place, somewhat ‘fly on the wall’. This concept meant working closely with set designer Amy Jane Cook and adding in masking which would allow me to drop the rig very low and hide it away from the audience. As this was a dystopian piece, I also had to have a rig that would allow for bursts of surrealism, alongside the hyperrealism.”
And whilst the show is dealing with large issues, the production itself was all about the smaller details. Peter explains: “The set is the same location throughout and also very naturalistic. Therefore a lot of my lighting had to showcase a passage in time, as this was often the only indication in between scenes. I did this by varying the background from return to return; sometimes the computer was on, sometimes the lamps were on and off, sometimes someone left the main light off but forgot to turn the kitchen light off etc. The show also starts very brightly and intentionally gets darker as the situation worsens for our characters. I don’t think moments of ugliness or shadows creeping in are a bad thing; in fact, it’s something we celebrated with this show.”
Knowing the creative and practical brief that he had to achieve, Peter contacted WL and worked closely with senior account handler Louise Houlihan and account handler Hugh Kemp to decide on his perfect fixtures. He explains: “With a show like this, you have to put a lot of thought into every single fixture you draw on and make sure it earns its place. Par cans are the focal point, providing a 4x4 grid of ‘pipe end’ with a heavy diffusion as this 4x4 set up gets around the set obstacles. Dimmable CFLs then echo this concept but in a ’top light’ sort of way, as they are also used as strobes.”
He adds: “We used 500w Fresnels for footlights with Source Four Pars, mainly due to their form factor but also the fact that they were a great source for candlelight in the later scenes. The windows all received Chroma-Q Color Force 48s, with the cell control important for us to suggest the various changes that were happening outside the space. A fistful of Data Flashes were used for either a spot effect or backlight strobing the audience whilst Nitro strobes on the advanced bar allowed for a strong front blast.
“We also had an Elation ACL curtain as we cannot achieve a full blackout due to the candles hence the curtain provided a somewhat framing metaphor. Alongside this, we had multiple smoke and haze machines, multiple AF1 fans, a swirl fan, snow machine, an exploding kettle, electro magnets, collapsing desk and a lot of LED tape”.
The show originally ran at Theatre Royal Plymouth before transferring to London where it will run until 22 February.
(Jim Evans)

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