White Light is part of the family for Uncle Vanya
Thursday, 20 February 2020
uncle-vanya-3-johan-perssonUncle Vanya runs at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 2 May 2020 (photo: Johan Persson)
UK - White Light has supplied the lighting equipment for Anton Checkov’s Uncle Vanya which has opened at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London’s West End.
This latest production has been directed by Ian Rickson and features a lighting design by Bruno Poet. Bruno comments: “What’s great about this translation is that it doesn’t reinvent the original but actually gives it a modern edge, using contemporary and accessible language which makes it moving, clear and very funny. Whilst it is set in the 19th century, the themes feel completely relevant to today.”
Bruno’s brief on the show was to move the story forward and support the character’s emotional journeys. He explains: “The script calls for a sense of the time of day, and the weather. We start in summer sunshine, move to a hot, but stormy night, then enter an autumnal afternoon that slowly travels through sunset to dusk and night time.
“The production all happens in the same space, so the lighting needed to give each act a distinctive feel while belonging within Rae Smith’s elegant design. Although we are guided by the script, Ian and I wanted the feel to be bold and expressionistic, sculpting the air and supporting the focus of the performers; with all the characters trapped in the misery of loneliness and unrequited love.”
As such, Bruno started designing his rig and choosing the fixtures that would be most suitable. He comments: “I knew I wanted tungsten light through the big windows that make up most of the stage right wall. I needed the rich warms across the wooden floor, and the beautiful colour shift as the lights fade. I wanted the flexibility of a few moving lights to allow me to put specials wherever I needed to frame and focus the storytelling.
“Also, I had to have an incredibly quiet rig. Ian warned me that he is obsessed with eliminating even the smallest fan noise - and rightly so. The delicacy and intimacy of the spoken word, powerfully supported by Stephen Warbeck’s music and Ian Dickinson’s sound design, should not be destroyed by the background hum of fans.”
Bruno approached the Hire Team at WL to acquire the fixtures he needed. He explains: “The main feel of the play is driven by 24 par cans with scrollers outside the SR window. These gave me the bold directional light source I wanted. These are balanced with an area cover of ETC Source 4 Series 2 Lustrs from Front of House. I had 4 Martin MAC TW1s overhead for specials and 4 Martin MAC Encore Performances front of house for the same.
“Offstage of the SR window, Rae designed a forest that slowly grows into the house. This was lit by four Aytron Ghiblis, chosen for their punch and wide angle (and quietness). The Ghiblis gave me the ability to show single shadow moonlight through the windows, compared to the pars that were a softer more expressionist source. A bunch of candles, lit by the cast and some tungsten practicals delivered the contrast in the night-time scenes. More Ghiblis high in the USR and USL corners gave me cold directional light for the night-time scenes. A very light haze was provided by an MDG Atmosphere - just to give a sense of dust hanging in the air.”
(Jim Evans)

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