Cutting The Right Color

Internationally renown poet Nikki Giovanni performs at West Side Theatre in Gary, Indiana. A special technique was used to gel the fixtures that front-lit the podium.

When the West Side Theatre Guild booked internationally renown poet Nikki Giovanni to headline a speaking engagement, I was asked to create a classy, clean lighting design that would not overpower the artist, yet still stand on its own as a visually attractive element of the production. After kicking around some ideas with assistant director Rashaad Cherry, we quickly agreed that using the theater’s white Austrian curtain as a backdrop was the way to go (it’s kind of hard to beat the look of a well-lit Austrian curtain when you’re looking for classy).

I up-lit the Austrian curtain with several Alkalite TP-84 RGB LED strip lights, allowing me to bring out the curtain’s texture and evenly wash it with a variety of colors (different looks were used for two musical opening acts, including a jazz trio). Eight High End Systems X-Spot Xtreme moving lights were used on the floor, four to add texture the Austrian curtain from downstage, with the other four placed upstage for “eye candy” aerial beams through haze added to the air.

As for Ms. Giovanni’s area lighting, I used Youtube to research her speaking style, and quickly found that she tends to stick to the podium and not move around too much. This meant that I could isolate her area at the podium with clean, flattering light, while allowing the rest of the stage to fall off into rich, saturated color. I front lit the podium from opposing 45

Posted in Lighting Design, Tips And Tricks by Guy Rhodes on September 19th, 2011.

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