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White Light Goes Inside Pussy Riot at Saatchi Gallery

White Light Goes Inside Pussy Riot at Saatchi Gallery
White Light Goes Inside Pussy Riot at Saatchi Gallery

UK – Created by the Olivier-nominated Les Enfants Terribles, Inside Pussy Riot is inspired by the all-female punk rock group who staged a protest inside Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in 2012. This immersive theatre experience is currently taking place at the Saatchi Gallery to coincide with their Art Riot exhibition. Having supplied a range of immersive theatre projects already this year, White Light was called upon to supply the lighting equipment.

Inside Pussy Riot invites audience members to pull on their balaclavas, stand in the dock and experience the realities of imprisonment. The lighting designer for the show is Charlie Morgan Jones. He comments: “Inside Pussy Riot takes its audience through the complete experience of Nadya Tolokonnikova’s trials and tribulations as the founder of Pussy Riot. At only an hour long, it’s extremely ambitious, as are all Les Enfants’ shows”.

The show takes place across two galleries inside the Saatchi Gallery within a multi-purpose set. Charlie explains: “There are numerous locations used throughout the piece, such as the cathedral, the police station, the courts along with the prison. Part of my role as the lighting designer was to help define each location. Similarly, after speaking with Les Enfants and the set designer in the initial planning stages, we decided to create a feel of heightened reality. There are a lot of scenes that are deliberately absurdist (reflecting a lot of the situations the Pussy Riot group found themselves in) so this felt like an appropriate choice.”

Prior to the show opening, Charlie made two site visits in order to assess the space and begin formulating his design. He comments: “Whilst I knew what feel I wanted to create, with a lot of shows like this, it’s about adapting to what is being created. As we had an empty space prior to the tech, I had to wait until the set was built and then adapt my design as we moved forward.”

Working closely with his production electrician Paul Walmsley, Charlie approached WL to supply him with the kit he required. He comments: “I drew heavily on the ETC Source Four Minis, a quantity of which WL invested in specifically for this show. For me, the Source Four Minis are a fantastic replacement for birdies as they have that extra ability to focus. I also positioned a series of light bulbs throughout the space along with fluorescents (in particular for the police scene) and a range of LED tape.

He continues: “Behind the stain glass window in the cathedral there are a range of EvenLED panels. For the window in the prison, I used a range of ETC Source Fours with beam benders. I also drew on ETC Source Four Lustrs to provide additional colour where needed. We can’t actually rig from the Saatchi ceiling so we had to implement our own rigging points in order to position the fixtures as required.”

Despite the ambitious nature of the show, Charlie and the LX team had a very limited time in which to set up the equipment. He comments: “From the first time I stepped into the space to opening night, we had a week and a half to bring everything together. It was an extremely intense period but I thankfully had a brilliant team working behind me, which included a lot of Rose Bruford graduates. Similarly, the guys at WL were once again fantastic, offering suggestions and insight whenever we needed it.”

The show has now opened and will run until 24th December.

Jonathan Haynes, WL’s business development manager, comments: “We are delighted to work with Charlie and the rest of his team on Inside Pussy Riot. Like the previous immersive shows we have supplied, it’s an extremely unique production that required a very specific technical set-up, something we were able to support.”

photos: courtesy of Kenny Mathieson

White Light Goes Inside Pussy Riot at Saatchi GalleryWhite Light Goes Inside Pussy Riot at Saatchi Gallery

27th November 2017

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