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White Light Hits the Right Notes for The Beggar’s Opera

White Light Hits the Right Notes for The Beggar’s Opera
White Light Hits the Right Notes for The Beggar’s Opera

UK – Written by John Gay and with music arranged by Benjamin Britten, The Beggar’s Opera is one of the most renowned folk operas of all time. Since its first performance at Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre, London in 1728, there have been thousands of productions across the globe. The latest comes from Birmingham Conservatoire who recently performed the show at the city’s Crescent Theatre. As a leading lighting supplier to UK theatre, White Light was called upon to provide the lighting equipment.

Upon its initial performance, The Beggar’s Opera parodied life in 18th century London and poked particular fun at the fashionable Handel operas of its day. This revival from Birmingham’s Conservatoire begins as a modernised version of the classic story and features a lighting design by Charlie Morgan Jones. Charlie comments: “This production of The Beggar’s Opera starts as an up-to-date retelling, offering something fresh and vibrant for its audience. For my design, I worked closely with Colin Judges (set designer), Matthew Sharp (opera director) and Jack Ramplin (associate lighting designer) to create a feel which we felt served this story.”

The creative team decided to embark on recreating the feel of a dilapidated theatre. Charlie states: “Colin created this incredible design which was essentially made up of theatrical flats and scattered rubbish. It really brought to life this sense of derelict and decay and this was something I wanted to highlight in my lighting.”

To achieve this, Charlie drew on WL’s extensive hire inventory. He states: “Whenever I light a show, it’s not so much about how I think it should look, but how I think it should feel. I wanted to create this sense of debauchery within Peachum’s Den and stamp my own vision on this. Similarly, with the Tavern scene, I used a range of deep red and deep orange lights which all felt appropriate for this particular interpretation of the show.”

Charlie drew on a range of GLP X4 Impression Bars, Martin Mac TW1s along with an ETC Ion Desk. He states: “This is the first time I’ve used the X4 Bars and they made such a huge difference on this show. We had two staircases in the piece and the Bars were positioned on the top of each. By doing so, they offered a swathe of light down each one, allowing complete coverage. They are also superb at dimming, colour and zoom giving me a whole host of options.”

He adds: “With the TW1s, whilst this is always fantastic fixture in my mind, it was also a very practical one for this production. As we were in the Crescent’s studio space, I needed a moving light that was powerful, had a variety of colour options yet wasn’t too noisy, which it exactly what the TW1 offered.”

The Beggar’s Opera marks the ninth show that Charlie has lit with the Birmingham Conservatoire, an organisation he has grown close to over the years. He comments: “I have worked with the Conservatoire since 2014 and have developed a brilliant collaborative relationship with them, especially Michael Barry and Jack Ramplin. This was yet another great production from the company and an absolute joy to work on.”

photos: Graeme Braidwood

White Light Hits the Right Notes for The Beggar’s OperaWhite Light Hits the Right Notes for The Beggar’s Opera

27th June 2017

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