Working with a good lighting designer can be a little like magic. (Hence one of the reasons I carried my wand throughout tech.)
A lighting designer I worked with once told me that working with lighting design is really just about understanding how the energy moves onstage. She asked me if I was a choreographer, because she felt I had a good sense for how energy moved. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed every ballroom dancing lesson I have ever taken (I recently learned to Paso Doble!) I am not a choreographer, and never will be. But moving energy is something I DO understand, and probably why I’m fascinated by lighting design.
Sometimes, as a director, one gets a lighting designer who is not skilled in this art, and it is painful. Sometimes, one gets to work with a great designer, but it’s what we call a “lights up, lights down” show, which is overstating it, but you get my drift…no opportunity to “trip the light fantastic.”
And every now and again, one gets the opportunity to work on a show with a great lighting designer with a huge blank canvas in front of him or her just waiting to be filled with light.
Such is the case with JACOB MARLEY’S CHRISTMAS CAROL. And I am a lucky so-and-so.
Dave Upton is a talent indeed. I enjoyed first watching his beautiful work on our production of THE WHIPPING MAN, which I did not direct, and quickly engaged him for each of our fall shows. Working on VENUS IN FUR with him was a pleasure, but was only the tip of the iceberg compared to MARLEY. The show is a sumptuous feast of color and movement, evoking everything from a dusty book-filled study, to the expanse of the Universe itself.
With MARLEY, we had many creative opportunities to work with light: following just one actor around the stage, a set that is like a sculptural explosion filled with nooks and crannies and surfaces that show up as a different color depending on the angle of the light, and a panoply of other dimensions including Hell, The Astral Planes, Victorian London, and even a starry sky with a single shooting star. Yes, you heard it here: Dave Upton creates a shooting star on our little stage, and it is magic. Theatrical magic, my very favorite kind.