Designing in Rep by Alok Wadhwani

Alok Wadhwani is the Scenic/Lighting Designer for ‘Art’ and ‘God of Carnage’

As most artists will tell you, it’s quite a challenge to take a blank canvas and turn it into a beautiful piece of art. Likewise, filling a blank stage with scenery and lighting for a magnificent piece of theatre can be challenging as well. So what does one do when they’re asked to design two very different shows for one very fixed space? First off, hope that they can work with directors as creative as Kristen Coury and Cody Nickell!

Early on in the design process, Kristen, Cody, and I would speak regularly about their thoughts on Art & God of Carnage. It was important that we all spoke together, as we wanted to make sure that as designs evolved we weren’t placing any unworkable constraints onto either show, which might be dictated by a design choice for a single show. Since we were all considering unique perspectives, we were able to immediately identify any possible red flags.

Moving forward, rather than fixating on specific “elements,” “colors,” or “pieces,” we tried to work with “ideas,” “textures,” and “shapes.” This allowed us to identify and create a unique look for each show, while still maintaining overall design flexibility. Only after these “looks” were established did we begin to design each show with physical forms that could be shared and manipulated in various ways.

As designs finalized, we found ways to re-use scenery for each show, while still respecting the individual needs of the other. Thanks to a talented team of production staff, scenery was built and coordinated to keep time, energy, and complications to a minimum when switching out for each show. Now that tech is just around the corner and previews begin next week, we’re tasked with putting the finishing touches and lighting on both Art and God of Carnage.

When laying out a lighting design for the shows, it was again important to keep in mind the needs for each of the two shows. Since the lighting cannot physically change, we had to design a system that would be flexible enough to accommodate each show.  Lighting fixtures, colors, and even textures were carefully chosen to complement one another, while being able to enhance specific areas and emotions simply by adjusting intensities between lighting fixtures.

It’s certainly been a challenge for all of us working on Art and God of Carnage, but thanks to the fantastic artistic and production teams here at Gulfshore Playhouse, you’ll have the unique opportunity to see two very different and fantastic pieces of theatre, both on a single stage!

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