All posts by Ben

The Very Important Child

The Very Important Child is my second collaboration with dance theatre company The Mostly Everything People. I designed and lit this anarchic and entertaining show. Developed to fit a tight budget, the designs are playful yet practical – creating a strong visual world for the piece – and are easy to tour.

“…there’s no denying that Ben Pacey’s design is well-thought out, [and] Preece and Scudeletti playfully use their resources to good effect. Pacey’s lighting too is thoughtfully conceived. Visually, there’s so much to take in and enjoy.”
VIEWS FROM THE GODS

Photos © John Freddy Jones 2016.

Adventures of the Little Ghost

Adventures of the Little Ghost is a dance performance for young audiences. It’s performed by a core team of professional dancers, who dance alongside a company of community performers – including young people – local to each venue on the tour.

As set designer for the project, I created an immersive in-the-round environment, where the audience are really up-close and connected to the performance, and which gently helps to establish the key locations in the story.

Choreographed and produced by Sophie Nüzel, Adventures of the Little Ghost is currently touring.

Thrive

I designed the lighting for this play-for-young-people towards the end of 2105, but was recently back in Lincoln to see the show back up for its autumn 2016 tour.

A key part of the design brief was that the company carry everything; Thrive can be performed in any room which is big enough and has a blackout. Lucky for me half-decent LED lights exist… and I had an elegant and imaginative set design by Barney George to work with.

Produced by Zest Theatre, it’s a powerful but ultimately life-affirming show. Look out for more tour dates in spring 2017, when the show will tour the south east in association with house network.

Feast of the Dead

Dens and Signals – the company which I co-direct with Jane Packman – was commisssioned to make this performance event to commemorate the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, as part of the ROOT 1066 International festival.

Feast of the Dead remembered those who fell on the battlefield, made connections between this historic event and our contemporary lives, and celebrated resistance and protest. Our performers picked over the bones of battle, and helped to create a welcoming, communal space in which our audiences could remember the history, and consider the impact of the conquest on our contemproary lives.

We collaborated with Blanch and Shock – a team of innovative and experimental chefs – who worked with us to create a delicious three course meal, inspired by the cooking of the eleventh century.

I wrote the performance text and song lyrics for the Feast, as well as developing the concept and co-producing.  It was performed 22nd – 25th September 2016, in Hastings, UK.

“Bloody fantastic night, an evening which stays with you for days” – Audience member, 2016.

Photos © Indiana Hamilton-Brown 2016

Dark Land Light House

Here’s some images from sleepdogs new sci-fi horror, Dark Land Light House.

Sci-fi horror is not a genre I often get to work with, and I loved the opportunity to make a strong, saturated, non-naturalistic lighting design.

In fact, it’s not a genre theatre audiences get exposed to much, either. I really enjoyed hearing audiences after the show saying that they had ‘never seen anything like that in a theatre before’.

The show is intensely immersive. According to one audience member, “I don’t think I’ve ever been so immersed in anything,  performance or installation, as I was last night. [It] was like I was swimming in it. The lights were really stunning…”. And, of course, a lot of that is down to Sleepdogs, the performers, the rest of the creative team and our R&D work on the project back in 2014. But I’ll totally take the bit about the lights.

“Incredible lighting by Ben Pacey. Recreating an interstellar light beam is no mean feat, and it is pulled off superbly.” – Fix Magazine

The photographs below were taken by the excellent Paul Blakemore. They totally capture the atmosphere of the show, although to my eye they go some way towards desaturating one of the most colour-rich designs I’ve made recently… perhaps since Kiln Ensembe’s The Furies?

Photos © Paul Blakemore 2016.

Comeback Special

This elusive performance by Greg Wohead is part “sort of” re-enactment, part séance. Conjuring a kind of Elvis, the idea of Elvis, Greg as Elvis, and… Greg as Greg.

In development, I worked with other collaborators to  devise ideas and create strange performative moments in response to Greg’s initial provocations. During this process, Rebecca Shneider’s text Peforming Remains inspired us to explore the idea that while the piece we were making would clearly not be the original ’68 Comeback Special, it would not not be it.

Later, this idea would influence my approach to designing the set and lighting. In a way the design is a minimal treatment, following the in-the-round format of the original broadcast, but adding reflection, shadow, and queitly dissolving—ghosting out—the edges of reality. Leaving room…

Catherine Love, writing in Exeunt sees Comeback Special as “…a perfect reconstruction in some ways, deliberately imperfect in others… this is a black-and-white negative of the 1968 Comeback Special. An echo. A ghost.”

And James Waygood writes that “Ben Pacey’s scene design is just as meticulous as Wohead’s deconstruction… [leaving] the performance area a blank canvas for Wohead to project upon and the audience to fill in. Pacey has created a theatrical infinity box, complete with ever ebbing lighting that radiates with narcotic finesse.”

And that (gently) narcotic lighting is, of course, also tightly integrated with the extraodinary loops and layers of Tim X Atack‘s sound design.

Check out Greg’s site for details of future performances of Comeback Special.

Photos © Richard Eaton 2016.

Handle With Care

Ever wondered how it’d feel to be one of the most majestic animals on the planet? The kind of noble beast who always travels First Class (Freight)? Handle With Care will transform you into a globe-trotting king of the jungle.

Gather your pride, be bold, and step inside!

Handle With Care is a three-minute interactive experience, installed inside a wardrobe.

The wardrobe interior is dressed as the inside of a shipping crate, and audiences (particpants?) are encouraged to imagine that they are a lion, arriving at its destination after a long international flight, and giving them the opportunity to ROAR!

Gently exploring confidence and presence, children can unleash their (amplfied) roars in a public space, while feeling safely hidden and anonymous within the privacy of the wardrobe/shipping crate.

Created for families and KS1/2 children as part of KIT Theatre‘s Wardrobe Adventure, Handle With Care was initially installed in the foyer of Birmingham Rep before touring to community libraries around the West Midlands.

I conceived, scripted and designed the piece, which featured the recoreded voices of Rochi Rampal, Graeme Rose and Jacob Rose, with sound design by Lewis Gibson.

Photo ©  Ben Pacey 2015 and Claire Browne 2016

Family Portrait

A complex and beguiling contemporary dance piece by Leila McMillan, in which a ‘constellation of portraits’ form and unform, as family connections are rediscovered, celebrated and tested.

Elements of the lighting design are improvised, allowing me to respond live to the improvised sections of movement. Following the rhythms, ebbs, and flows of the seven dancers and live musucian is a beautiful and often almost meditative…

Lidia Crisafulli took these lovely photos during the dress rehearsal for our 2015 performances at Sadler’s Wells Lilian Bayliss studio.

In 2016, Family Portrait is part of Dance4’s NEAT Festival at Nottingham Contemporary.

Photo © Lidia Crisafulli 2015.

The Furies

The Furies is an extraordinary performance/gig inspired by Clytemnestra’s Greek revenge myth, accompanied by live guitars and drums. I saw an early R&D of the show before I was involved, and knew immediately that I could make a design which would transform, elevate and amplify the audience experience.

And, luckily, I got the chance to make it.

“They’re assisted by Ben Pacey’s excellent lighting, which guides the action as well as capturing the three Furies in stunning and otherworldly illuminations.” – A Younger Theatre

I originally lit Kiln Ensemble‘s The Furies back in 2011, when the company were still Kindle Theatre. Since then, we’ve taken it to tunnels, corn exchanges, warehouses, festivals (inlcuding Mayfest, Pulse and GIFT), and played Summerhall twice: in 2014 and (with the full lighting design) in 2015 for the British Council Showcase.

Incredible performances and vocal technique, live music, dyanmic coloured light, haze machines and a late-night-and-up-for-it audience… It’s still one of my favourites.

“There is something so wildly unreserved about it that it sends you reeling into the night more than a little dazed.” – The Guardian

Photos © Bianca Harvey 2011, Alicja Rogalska 2012, Joanthan Blackford 2014.

This Last Tempest

This Last Tempest is the most recent of my regular collaborations with  Uninvited Guests .

In this performance, desribed as “part theatre, part gig” by the company, Uninvited Guests take up the stories of Ariel and Caliban, just as Shakespeare’s The Tempest leaves them: alone on the island. Left to themselves, and finally given the freedom to “do anything”, Ariel and Caliban begin to consider what the future might hold.

That “part gig” desription is crucial, letting in a world of opportunity to create lighting which can be subtle one minute, and outrageously bold the next.

“A combination of intense imagery & high energy characterisation. Loved it. Boom!” – AUDIENCE MEMBER

The show is produced by Fuel, and continues  to tour in 2016.

Photo © Ben Pacey 2014

Here Massive Troposphere

Currently in development, Here Massive Troposphere is inspired by the natural world, digital culture, and spending too much time alone.

As an indroduction to the piece, I made a short interactive online trailer using Twine. You can play with it, here: bit.ly/troposphere

In collaboration with Lucy Ellinson, Lewis Gibson, Jane Packman, Jess Parfitt,  andRich Warburton, I presented work-in-progress performances at Theatre in the Mill, Bradford, and mac, Birmingham in 2014; and at Camden Peoples Theatre in 2015.

The image is collaged from Creative Commons licensed images.