LD Neil Austin offsets RGBY batten warmth with colder RGBW
The Olivier and Tony award nominated Blues In The Night has undergone its first revival in 30 years at London’s Kiln Theatre.
Running until 7 September, and originally conceived by Sheldon Epps, Robert Jones’ hotel-based set design, steeped in Chicago 1930’s depression, is brought to life by eminent lighting designer, Neil Austin, with the aid of purpose-selected LED tools from GLP, with whom he has collaborated frequently in the past.
It was Austin who had initially suggested the more theatre-friendly variant of GLP’s popular impression X4 Bar, proposing an RGBY batten that would deliver warmer tones, which is now available as a custom option in the GLP catalogue. Austin himself has been using quantities of these fixtures on an internationally renowned production currently being produced around the globe.
It had been Rob Jones who was responsible for getting the Tony and Olivier Award-winning LD involved in this latest production. “We had been trying to work together for the last 17 years, and when he called up about Blues In The Night, the fact that this was the first real juke box music compilation from a great era of songs was the clincher, as was the chance to work with [the show’s star] Sharon D Clarke. It’s fragmented imaging of the late 30’s in a run-down hotel, with three women and a man, all interacting and telling their stories. It’s a lovely selection of songs and a lovely set too.”
But the Kiln Theatre (previously the Tricycle) is a small theatre, and although it was substantially refurbished during its metamorphosis about a year ago, including a technology upgrade, it only had a small weekly production budget. “It was certainly not sufficient to stage a musical,” said the LD. And so he turned to GLP for assistance.
His solution was to mix 10 each of the shorter X4 Bar 10 RGBY battens with the standard RGBW. “We are using the warm RGBY for backlighting the rooms and the cold [RGBW] for the central Hotel Foyer area, but they all blend together beautifully,” he notes.
But Austin was far from finished with GLP’s innovative solutions, as next he turned to the compact X4 atom, which despite its diminutive form factor houses a mighty 30W LED colour source. “We used six of these tiny atoms, which are glorious,” he exclaimed. “I always knew I would use these one day, and this provided the opportunity to skim the proscenium which we’ve glazed slightly. These fixtures are tight and bright and highlight it perfectly.”
He believes the atoms will be in high demand as they gradually find their way into rental inventories.
Finally, he is using GLP’s impression S350 LED moving head profile, with its uniquely designed full spectrum light source, which is said to “make primary colour more intense, pastel colours more natural, and coloured objects and skin-tones more lively.”
It is also a versatile fixture, since last time out – when he was lighting The Hunt at the Almeida Theatre – it functioned as a backlight, whereas at the Kiln Theatre it serves as the house follow spot. “It works equally well in both modes,” Neil Austin assures.
Summing up, he says that all the GLP pieces have performed flawlessly. “They have been 100% reliable and everyone has been hugely impressed – in fact they love the lights down at the theatre.”
Assisting Neil Austin were his regular programmer, Dan Haggerty, with Jamie Platt as associate lighting designer. Lighting equipment vendor was White Light.