Family Portrait

LIGHTING DESIGN

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

LIGHTING DESIGN

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

LIGHTING DESIGN

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

Sleepdogs R&D

DESIGN, LIGHTING DESIGN, PERFORMANCE

Collaborating with Sleepdogs, I spent a stimulating week in Bristol, helping to develop ideas for the visual aesthetic of their new project, Dark Land Light House.

It’s a sci-fi/horror piece: a fairly rare (but really exciting!) genre in contemporary theatre, and totally appropriate to be exploring within the generic darkness of the black-box studio.

The kind of space where – just beyond the light – there really might be anything…

Photo © Paul Blakemore, 2014.

A Journey Around My Skull

DESIGN, LIGHTING DESIGN, PERFORMANCE

I collaborated with Kiln Ensemble to design the set and lighting for this solo performance by Olivia Winteringham, one of Kiln’s co-artistic directors.

Created on a tiny budget, the design locates the performance in an ambiguous, slightly unheimlich room: part consultant’s office, part operating theatre, part voyeuristic medical dream-space.

For a key moment in the show – live brain surgery(!) – I made a bespoke “head” for Olivia to “operate” on. Adapted from a retail display moulding, I designed and installed internal LEDs and biaural microphones.

Photos © Johnathan Blackwood, 2014.

Autobiographer Award Nomination

LIGHTING DESIGN, PERFORMANCE

ab_award

My lighting design for Melanie Wilson‘s Autobiographer has been nominated in the ‘Best Lighting Design’ category of the Offies (the Off West End Theatre Awards) 2012… alongside a nomination for Melanie herself for ‘Best Sound Design’.

It’ll be quite a while before we hear any more about this, but it’s great news, and really pleasing to see this brave and beautiful project getting some recognition.

Photo © Gemma Riggs 2012

Cupid

LIGHTING DESIGN, PERFORMANCE

cupid_jaskirt

There’s some great photos of Cupid, an interactive performance installation by Subject to_change, on the website of photographer Jaskirt Dhaliwal. She took these images during one of the first performances, at Fierce Festival 2012.

My lighting design supports the performance through subtle and sometimes less subtle means. The design includes an bespoke – and epic! – animated starscape, which Abigail and I custom-made using hundreds coloured LEDs.

Photo © Jaskirt Dhaliwal 2012

Autobiographer

LIGHTING DESIGN

Melanie Wilson‘s Autobiographer is an extraordinary performance work. Her writing handles complex, affecting material with great care and honesty; her stong vision for the work invites beautiful design responses.

I designed lighting for the production, my second collaboration with Melanie following Iris Brunette. Brilliantly, the project offered both creative scope and the resources to create an ambitious and dynamic design.

During an earlier R&D phase – inspired by a series of scientific images of a mouse brain – I had conceived of a canopy of tungsten lightbulbs, which would visually represent the brain cells of Flora; would help contain and hold our audiences within the space; and which I could use to both light and animate the performance: during the performance, as Flora’s dementia develops, her experiences move between lucid recollection into jagged mental confusion.

“…the shifting canopy of bulbs fizzes and explodes with light…” – TIME OUT

To realise the design, I collaborated closely with set designer Peter Arnold, and Fuel’s amazing production management team.

Autobiographer opened at the Dublin Fringe Festival in September 2011, and the production was nominated for the Best Production Award.

We created the kind of experience which is very hard to document: photography and film cannot match the live experience. But I hope this trailer gives at least an impression…

Photo © Monika Chmielarz 2011

Treasured – A Secret Journey

LIGHTING DESIGN, PERFORMANCE, WRITING

Created by the company, with direction and facilitation by Jane Packman, Treasured – A Secret Journey is a unique performance experience for one person at a time.

The piece has the feeling of a gift. It places each audience member at the centre of the performance: they become the protagonist in a narrative which they chose. It’s a rich, powerful experience, yet also extremely gentle… almost passive. The company worked hard to make sure that people felt comfortable and enjoyed themselves. Audiences are not under pressure to “perform” or “interact”.

There are three short narratives – each inspired by one of three beautiful pieces of sculptural jewellery which were commissioned for the project from three West Midlands-based makers – which audiences can chose.

On this project I wrote one of the three stories (inspired the “ivy” – a dark grasping PVC piece made by Louise Bryan), collaborated/devised, designed lighting, and production managed.

Photo by Chris Keenan, 2010.

A Small Town Anywhere

LIGHTING DESIGN, WRITING

smalltown

A Small Town Anywhere originated from a challenge to Coney to make a piece of theatre from an existing narrative, and present it with no performers. We worked from Henri-Georges Clouzot’s film Le Corbeau, and cast our audience as the citizens of a small French-ish town, faced with external political turmoil and a troublesome and poisonous ‘Raven’ within.

I worked as a co-author on this project, along with Tassos Stevens, Melanie Wilson, Gary Campbell, Annette Mees, Tracky Crombie and Tom Bowtell. We were joined along the way by many other brilliant collaborators who were involved for one or other section of the project.

The piece was developed over a couple of years, including development time at the National Theatre Studio and BAC, and we showed the “full theatrical release” version at BAC in the autumn of 2009.

A Small Town Anywhere was particularly exciting for me, as it was one of the first visible (or at least relatively high profile) projects in which I was actively shifting my practice from ‘collaborative lighting designer’ to collaborative artist/maker/writer.

Here’s a lovely little film documenting the BAC performances, filmed by Greg McLaren: