Lee Curran pixel maps award-winning battens on two dramatic productions
GLP’s impression LED fixtures recently demonstrated that in addition to raw power, the advantages of multi-functionality and subtlety are paramount when it comes to lighting dramatic performance in smaller theatre venues.
A specialist in this genre, designer Lee Curran was originally exposed to the German company’s lighting catalogue at Shakespeare’s Globe where the award-winning X4 Bar 20s were specified as part of the new lighting rig at the time. “I remember demoing the units with Malcolm Rippeth and Victoria Brennan, and being surprised at what they were capable of,” he states.
Then shortly before embarking on the production of The Lady From The Sea at the Donmar Warehouse, he used a single X4 Bar 10 on English Touring Theatre's production of The Weir, to provide a variety of light through a window in a very tight space with almost no throw distance. It not only provided him with the perfect solution but set him up for further deployments of the X4 Bars.
“With The Globe and The Weir we made good use of the pixel mapping to produce colour effects, while on The Lady From The Sea we also used both tilt and zoom in quite subtle ways. We also needed some of the units to fit in very tight spaces, so their size was a huge advantage.”
Curran already had some units from White Light, but with the fixtures in high demand and the budget limited, a chance meeting with GLP UK’s Simon Barrett at an Association of Lighting Designer (ALD) event, led to further necessary inventory being procured at very short notice. “This was fortunate, as the fit up was only a week away,” noted the designer.
But following The Lady From The Sea he was far from finished with the X4 Bar 10s and 20s. “At that point the set design for Summer and Smoke [at the Almeida Theatre] was in its early stages, and as it evolved, it was obvious that X4 Bars could also play a big part in realising the lighting design,” he rationalised.
With the entire overhead rig at the Almeida exposed, nine X4 Bar 20s are positioned at stage level, behind the pianos that arc along the upstage edge of the set, and are detailed for wall washing. The overhead units comprise 13 x X4 Bar 10s, and they are additionally used for ‘specials’, such as top lighting, back lighting and what the LD describes as “a couple of striking moments of movement.” All the units are pixel mapped and all have performed flawlessly, he says.
Lee Curran also owes a lot of the dramatic impact of GLP’s battens to his lighting programmers and board operators — Miguel Figueiredo on The Lady From The Sea and Robin Fisher on Summer and Smoke. “I think in the case of both programmers, it was the first time they’d pixel-mapped on the fixtures, although they had used them before. In all cases the effects are used subtly — bits of movement and colour variation, adding texture and life to the stage picture.”
In summary, the designer says he could hardly have been more impressed with the GLP’s X4 Bars. “Having a modern LED fixture that can function as a light curtain or a wash light, that you can use for specials but can also use for pixel mapping, with good colour rendition and dimming, and all in a very small and neat package … I’ve not used anything else like it.”