Category Archives: LIGHTING DESIGN

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.

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.

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.

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

Sleepdogs R&D

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

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.

Landscape II

Melanie Wilson‘s Landscape II is a bold hybrid of performance, film and sound art. The piece premiered at Dublin Fringe Festival 2013, prior to UK touring.

I co-designed the set with Melanie, also working in close collaboration with video artist Will Duke and Fuel’s production manager Stuart Heyes.

“The set, too, plays its part… giving proceedings an intimate feel…” – SABOTAGE REVIEWS

I also created a dynamic lighting design which was tightly integrated with the production as a whole – including the video design – whilst keeping the number of light elegantly manageable.

Production Photos © Al Mass 2013 / Set Photos © Ben Pacey 2013

 

Autobiographer Award Nomination

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

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