Still Living Down Last Week

Posted on Posted in Being Human, Musings about Light

Occasionally, theatres host “talk-backs” where either the actors or the designers, or the director, or really… only the actors. Audiences only see actors onstage and usually don’t think about the designers and director that work to bring a show to life – and that’s completely natural. I don’t really ever attend them, I think maybe the last talkback I attended was when I was in college, and well, that was almost 20 years ago.

So, when I was asked to be a part of a talkback, I jumped at the chance.

Unfortunately, this show, this particular show, didn’t require/want/benefit from extremely eye-catching lighting. And because of this, I walked in with a little apprehension and a little bit of fear as well. I arrived after the show had begun, and hung out in the booth for the duration of the play.  At intermission, I was introduced to the woman who would be moderating the talkback, and she immediately put me at ease.  She didn’t want to talk about the designs in terms of their creativity or complexity – she wanted to talk about what it means to be a part of a design team for a new play.  A play that was on its 10th revision by the time it made it to its first audience.

That.  That I could talk about.  For the second half of the play, I watched again from the booth and thought about all of the past projects that I’d designed where new pages came and went, and how we’d had to link around cues, and delete very sacred cues, and well, generally screw around with a play for days before finally settling on a specific story to be told.  I thought about rehanging specials, and shifting lights around, and regel-ing full systems as scenes went from daytime, to nighttime, etc.

The show ended, and we walked out onstage, and our sound designer same alive with jovial discussion and anecdotes that I’d never heard before.  I was asked one question, and well, I didn’t have a great answer for it.

When the show shifted from being more realistic, to a more stylized version, and the costumes became more colorful, more exaggerated, did the lighting need to change much to match?

Well, no.

In my view of the show, it always should have been exaggerated.  It always should have had a bizarre edge, and the lighting had always tried to add moments where the color was pushed, or the cue timing was sharp and jarring. If anything, the costumes and scenery were evolving to the same place where the lighting had always been. -Not that the lighting was ever very colorful.  It was, however, sparkling, crisp, and alive. Which, I think, is what a farce like this needed.

But what did I actually say?

Mumble mumble mumble…  We’d built into the show a great deal of flexibility such that we could adapt to the changes in the scenery and costumes.


Well, something like that anyway.