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Putting together Wild Life

Well, opening night was done and dusted and the first great review is already here 'A smart script and two marvellous performances from Lesley Hart and David Ireland '

Over the course of the tour, the Open Source will host different notes from the various people who helped make Wild Life. If you have any questions for any of the team, just ask!

Our lovely lighting designer Simon Wilkinson kicks us off:

Lighting any touring show inevitably boils down to resolving the artistic with the achievable. In fact, that's part of the joy of working on them. In some cases, practical constraints lead to artistic discoveries that just wouldn't have been encountered otherwise. With Wildlife, the original concept had been to entirely light the piece with objects that were already within the room. There's something both magical and slightly sinister about a face lit solely by the light from a laptop or a mobile phone. However, translating this concept to reality posed certain problems. In a room, the light from a phone is just about enough to illuminate someone providing the phone is close and the room is small. In a large auditorium it just leaves people straining to see. This problem applies to table lamps and other room lighting too - as the theatre gets larger, either the lights have to be bigger, or you have to cheat. It soon became apparent that, short of setting the play on a film set, lighting the play purely with objects in the character's world was not going to work for some of our touring venues.

So, it became a matter of working out what is so interesting about this kind of light. It's partly the colour - the cold grey light from a laptop is almost dehumanising, and partly the angle - the old trick of holding a torch under your chin. Colour and angle are never far from any lighting designer's mind, but they came to the fore with this piece. As a design team we had had many discussions about the reality of the world occupied by Dave and Daisy. Our eventual conclusion was to create something that was grounded in reality, but with some slightly surreal touches. In particular, I wanted to create the feeling of Dave and Daisy being trapped within their lives in their apartment. Both the colour and angle of the lighting would help with this. I decided to create a cold world within their home, inspired by the grey laptop light, and contrast that with the slight warmth of the world outside their window. Instead of lighting from above, I also wanted an intriguing world of shadows, with light coming from below, to the side and behind.


At this point, the tour once again nudged me along a design direction. It became apparent that one of our touring venues had no facilities for hanging theatre lights above the stage. In that venue, at least, the overhead lighting would be restricted to a single hanging bulb. Rather than try to work around that restriction, this lack of overhead illumination became a cornerstone of the design. The vast majority of the rig became clustered around 3 vertical poles (booms) in the corners of the space. The unusual angles from these positions contribute to the feelings of oppression and unease.
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J. Sharp Taking A Walk
07 September 2014
Very much enjoyed your show at the Brunton Theatre last night and the silent walk to start was an excellent addition, creating the perfect atmosphere....