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Iris Theatre Has Faith in White Light for Macbeth Church Production
UK – Located at the world famous St Paul’s Church in Covent Garden, Iris Theatre creates bespoke productions specific to that space. The company’s aim is to develop the next generation of professional theatre practitioners and produce a vibrant repertoire of varied work. This year marks the company’s ten-year anniversary which will be celebrated with a summer season of immersive productions. One of these is Macbeth and White Light was called upon to provide the lighting equipment.
Iris Theatre was originally formed in 2007 and has grown considerably over the years, having won Best Production for Young People at last year’s OFFIE Awards. General manager Sofi Berenger said: “As an organisation, we seek to produce a fresh and vibrant repertoire of varied work which results in accessible and affordable theatre which caters for all ages. We are also extremely lucky to have a fantastic space located in the heart of the West End which plays an integral role in our productions.” The latest of these productions is Macbeth which offers a brand-new re-imagining of Shakespeare’s iconic play. It is directed by Daniel Winder and features a lighting design by Benjamin Polya.
Benjamin states: “This version of Macbeth is a site responsive piece. As Iris is based within St Paul’s Church, this means that the audience is transported around the different spaces as the story progresses. The director was very eager to make the entire church ground play an integral part of this world and to transport the audience into the world of Macbeth.”
In total, Macbeth utilises five spaces across the church grounds. Benjamin states: “The five spaces we use are the church itself, the steps, the north garden, the south garden and the main pathway. By using five spaces, this essentially means we have mini theatres within the grounds, both indoors and out. My role as lighting designer was to help fulfil the director’s vision whilst at the same time practically light the spaces.”
To achieve this, Benjamin approached White Light who have a long history with supplying the venue. Benjamin states: “Inside the church, there is a range of ETC Source Fours, Fresnels, LED lights and parcans. It’s essentially like any other theatrical space and is a fully working rig. That said, due to the nature of the show, the audience is only inside for 20 minutes!”. Within the gardens, Benjamin drew on a series of parcans and smoke machines. He states: “We were very keen to recreate the foreboding atmosphere that pervades throughout Macbeth and the smoke machines helped us to do just this. Similarly the colours which we could achieve using the moving lights worked perfectly for the apparition scenes outside.”
As the audience is constantly moving throughout the church, one of the challenges for Benjamin was ensuring that the lighting level remained consistent throughout. Benjamin adds: “Naturally there will always be an imbalance of internal and external lighting. An important factor for me was ensuring this didn’t become problematic and that the lighting worked coherently in order to serve the story we were telling. To achieve this, I used a lighting desk for the outside scenes which allowed us to achieve the balance we required.”
Not only did Benjamin and his team have to contend with the practicalities of lighting but also working within the church space. Benjamin states: “Iris Theatre is a fantastic location yet it is also used every single day as a church meaning all of the equipment needs to be flexible enough to be moved at the end of each day. Thankfully, apart from the discrete rig within the church itself, WL supplied us with equipment which be moved as and when needed.”
The show has now opened and is attracting audiences of all ages to embark on a truly unique interpretation of Macbeth. Benjamin adds: “This is a very special show in a very special theatre. Not many people realise that, despite being a fringe venue, we actually have an enormous seating capacity of well over 200 meaning huge audiences can come along and experience our work. We are grateful to WL for their support on this occasion and over our past ten years.”
photos: Nick Rutter
10th July 2017
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