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Lightbulb Moment

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The light is clearer now. Most of the new shows have checked into the venues and the heroic technicians in their trusty black outfits are calm, relaxed and humming show tunes. The banter is random in the changing area and show secrets are being shared, except by magicians for obvious reasons!

The different lighting design used by many of the shows at our venue is a great insight into the psychology behind showmanship. We are all using the same simple black box space to create unique experiences thanks to the power of the lighting desk. Before I jumped a cheap flight to Edinburgh I did not know my fresnels from my profiles. Now I figure the first is a light bulb and the second is a spotlight. I note what a difference a gel makes thanks to a wonderful lighting designer Tiana Halliday who creates a dark shady cell environment for me to tell my story after meeting me for just an hour.

Everything is ready to go in an instant with technicians running shows off scripts they have just had thrust into their hands that second. Instantly the venue technicians gain kudos off the newly arrived companies. Suddenly what was scary feels like a safe environment and I think back to my preview lights the wonderful Robert Bristow and Laura Bradley created for my first performance. The rig changes as the show grows thanks to the clever thought processes of these men and women in black. This is a shameless plug for the work of the tremendous techies who make our shows go with a bang where appropriate. The Fred and Ginger show at Sweet Grassmarket creates intimacy with the house lights up whilst the atmospheric ‘Subsist’ play at the same venue starts with the pitch darkness broken only with the actress Lynne Campbell holding a torch. This moment takes some nerve and is supported by a great lighting design.

Meanwhile, I take a quiet moment to pfaff over a few of my broken props crying out for a patch or two of gaffa tape. It’s nice to hear the inane show tunes in the background and go with the flow. Well worn lines like, ‘there is no business like show business’ pop up. We’re all on board the Starlight Express for the ride of our life and whatever the journey, ‘there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!’ Just don’t ask me if it’s a fresnel or a follow spot because it will be a case of the blind leading the blind in spite of the best lighting design possible.


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