Elation LED for modern Macbeth in Denver
Wednesday, 6 December 2017
macbeth-at-dcpaphoto-credit-adamsviscom1This modern version of Macbeth takes place in the DCPA’s in-the-round Space Theatre
USA - The Denver Centre for the Performing Arts (DCPA) is staging an inventive and re-imagined version of Macbeth that features an all-male cast, EDM style music and modern design elements. Lighting the contemporary version of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy is Alex Jainchill, who uses LED lighting from Elation Professional to meet lighting challenges and create magical moments in the show, including special black light UV effects.
This modern version of Macbeth which takes place in the DCPA’s newly remodelled in-the-round Space Theatre and, is directed by Robert O’Hara, who has infused the story with fresh ideas and used the intimacy of the space to create an engaging production. Jainchill puts his own creative imprint on the play as well using Elation LED lighting fixtures - Satura Profile and Platinum Seven LED moving heads, SixPar 200 and Arena Par Zoom LED Par lights, as well as other lighting. “The show is very current, if not futuristic, so LED seemed like an obvious choice,” the designer stated of the LED fixtures’ modern appeal.
Jainchill explains that the design concept was based on a line in the play where the character Hecate tells the witches to ‘meet me at the pit of Acheron’. “The concept was based around a ritual performed by warlocks in the pit of Acheron, sort of a cave at the end of the world. We were very interested in this version of the ritual being almost futuristic, certainly modern.”
There are also sections of the show that don't exist in the Shakespeare original, the designer says, segments that they referred to as ‘movements’ that were underscored by EDM music. As the production didn't use swords and conventional Shakespearean violence, Jainchill used the UV LED of the Platinum Seven fixtures (the light houses a 7-colour multi-chip LED) as an important effect in many of the movements.
“For example, Macbeth's Dagger soliloquy was actually part of a movement sequence in which the floating daggers were represented by the actors’ arms in UV-activated gloves,” he explains. “It gave the effect of disembodied daggers floating and slashing around Macbeth. The biggest key for using the Platinum Sevens and why I wouldn't accept a substitution in this case was the UV chip. All of the actors had UV-activated tattoos, and the floor had a UV treatment.”
Jainchill adds that the Platinum Sevens were lighting workhorses and used their design features to light every scene. “Although the UV was the most important feature of the Platinum Sevens, they also are fantastic wash lights and I would use them again simply as an LED wash light.
The LD used a total of 15 Platinum Sevens in the production, 10 mounted in the scenic pentagon ceiling with the remainder hung above five Vom entrances, giving him “the closest thing to sidelight I could achieve in the round.” He also used 25 Elation SixPar 200s in the show, a Par colour changer with a six-colour multi-chip LED, including UV, a light that the LD called “crucial” on the show.
Also used often were LED-based Satura Profile CMY moving heads with framing, whose framing shutters, gobos, prism and other design features the designer says were quite useful.
In-the-round productions always pose special lighting challenges for a lighting designer but there were other factors that also tested the LD. “Lighting dance/movement pieces without sidelight is always a challenge,” Jainchill says. “But there were other challenges as well. The cast was huge and we often had 17 people on stage. They also made entrances from five stairwells and five Voms. Plus, seating is very, very close to the stage floor so lighting everyone successfully and not lighting the audience was especially difficult with everyone on stage.”
Jainchill used an ETC Eos Classic console for lighting control and previsualised the show using Vectorworks Vision. Lighting assistant on the show was Lily Bradford and master electrician was Charles Macleod. “They were fantastic and I couldn't have done the show without their help,” the designer concludes.
(Jim Evans)

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