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White Light Supplies Venus in Fur in West End
UK – Following a Tony Award-winning run on Broadway, Venus in Fur has now made its London debut, opening at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Starring Natalie Dormer and David Oakes, the critically-acclaimed two-hander follows a meeting between enigmatic actress Vanda Jordan and director Thomas Novachek, with Vanda determined to land the leading role in Thomas’ latest production. As a leading supplier to West End theatre, White Light was called upon to provide the lighting equipment.
The lighting designer for the show is Hugh Vanstone, who comments: “The play itself dictates a lot about the setting and lighting as the action takes place in a New York rehearsal room whilst a thunderstorm rages outside. The room is initially lit with fluorescent strip lights but also has a small improvised lighting rig which the mysterious Vanda commandeers to soften the mood in her attempts to win over Thomas.”
This meant that Hugh had to implement two clear distinctions with his design: “The way I approached this play was to ensure there was a marked contrast between the blandly lit fluorescent room and the more atmospheric theatrical lighting. The first thing I did was install a version of the ‘rehearsal lighting rig’ in the actual rehearsal room which Natalie could use to set the mood.”
Hugh also worked alongside set and costume designer Rob Howell. He states: “It’s quite a striking set design featuring a raked floor pushing through the proscenium into the house with a steeply-angled ceiling overhead. As a result, there was no opportunity for overhead lighting; something I had to work around.”
Hugh drew on the Martin MAC Viper Washes to provide bright lightning effects along with a range of ETC Source Four Lustr 2s, conventional Source Fours, Fresnels and birdies. Perhaps most significantly, the rig also contained the recently launched Philips VL1100 LED, making Venus in Fur the first West End production to utilise this highly-anticipated product.
Hugh explains: “When I was designing the rig, I spoke to WL’s technical director Dave Isherwood who informed me that WL had become one of the first companies to invest in the VL1100s. I asked if I could try them for this show and he said yes. I used these fixtures to provide the tightly focused highlights for the actors during key moments – something they delivered with superb precision.
He adds: “Overall, I was really impressed with the VL1100s. It’s a great improvement on the conventional tungsten version as it’s brighter and the colour mixing and frost function are both improved. Because of the LED engine the beam intensity and consistency is much better. They are also virtually silent, making them perfect for a play like this, and I can see them becoming a very popular fixture for many lighting designers.”
Directed by Patrick Marber, Venus in Fur has now opened and will run until 9th December.
Hugh concludes: “I had a great experience working on Venus in Fur. The play gives the lighting designer carte blanche to really show off and WL once again proved to be the perfect choice to allow my design to shine.”
photo: Darren Bell
1st November 2017
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