Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Skating/Lighting Artist on Risks

I can do a pretty wide array of things for the stage, but my forte is lighting. No one really gets lighting until it's too late, but it's something that can make or break a show. I did special events lighting and show lighting, and over time I developed habits. I knew what colors always looked good, and while I had some variation, I usually stuck to my own personal library. It was pretty safe.

I'm now doing a show that's pushing me out of my library. The costumer started handing me swatch after swatch of plaids. Orange plaid, pink plaid, white plaid, some kind of herringbones and pinstripes and bigstripes, all in a million colors.

The trouble with plaid is that if you throw the wrong light on it, the pattern will go away. Colors will get lost, which I'm sure wouldn't make the costumer very happy. Thing was, my original design concept was centered around an Early Theatre/Dirty Light motif, which was heavily based around the deep ambers of candlelight and gas flame. So. I had a problem.

I laid out all my million color swatches on the floor of the shop, and put an LED color changing fixture to cycle through colors, and literally sat and watched the plaids change color for about twenty minutes. Pinky Purple seemed to be the ticket, but you can't light an entire show in pinky purple. What's more, I am building houselights out of wine bottles and A-Lamps, and my prototype cast off this gorgeous deep twinkling green with an amber circle under the hole I cut in the glass. I had to find a way to work with what emerged as my three main colors: Pinky Purple, Deep Green, and Amber.

I've said that I wanted my skating to support my theatre, and my theatre to support my skating. I've started to see skating as another extension of the art I do. Skating is an incredibly risky and all-in art form. So I went skating to clear my head. Coach Fab really wants me to do some crazy things, and every time I think I'm going to die trying. But I never do. I worked on lunges with 3 turns, pulled off a few and fell a few times, tried really laying back into it because I'd love to do a knee slide like Johnny Weir.... fell on that rather dramatically.

Coach Fab won't me stay comfortable for very long. He's stated that he never will. The minute I start getting cool with things, he asks for more. And I'm slowly delivering, and it's because I'm always willing to take those risks.

I had to start taking risks with my other art, too. So I yanked all the markers off my Safe colors and started over. I settled on a deep green, a newer color of smoky pink, a rich amber, a pinkyamber, a pinkypurple, a shade of brown and a sick looking hybrid of Neutral Density and Orange color. And off we went. I dropped color in my lights and started focusing. Stitch was at the console and I asked him to turn on the sidelight, the pink and the amber, and my husband (who had stopped in to have dinner and chat while I focused) looked up and said, "Wow, that's a bold choice."

The color on the stage was indescribable, but it worked. I had Stitch turn on the pinkypurple fronts and the bottle green backs, I plugged in my footlights half colored in amber and then had Stitch wander the stage carrying the most offensive of plaid swatches. It worked. I turned on the sickly Orange Sidelights and I can't even say how it popped. I almost squealed when I noticed that the Silver threads of a character's jacket will match his purple leggings perfectly in the backlight. I had managed to marry my concept of Dirty Light with the Plaids.

There's still work to do, but I feel accomplished. In skating I progress because I'm not afraid to take risks. I figure if I can fall on my face in front of 300+ people during a show, and get up to flourish and bow, what else is there? Take risks, or you'll have the best crossrolls in town but not much else. In Lighting I have to be the same way, or all my shows will start to look the same. As I move forward and start to do more design work, I have to hold onto that.

Take Risks. Risks are fun.

1 comment:

  1. Hey this is really cool. I did a lot of stage lighting for a couple of decades but it's been a while. I feel like all the tech has changed and I'm a dinosaur now :-(.

    I know what you mean though. I did a lot of musicals and I really had my set of favorite colors that I used a lot and that I was comfy with. Then I wound up doing a play ("Good", if you have ever heard of it) which really made me rethink things and took me off autopilot so to speak. It was s a lot of fun.

    Thanks for sharing this. I loved lighting. It can be so expressive in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways.