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Elation Lighting for UniSon at Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Thu, 11 May 2017 10:23

Photo by Jenny Graham

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) has celebrated William Shakespeare’s legacy since 1935 with another busy summer season of plays underway. OSF also stages plays by other playwrights and is presenting UniSon at the Angus Bowmer Theatre through October, a new musical inspired by the poetry of August Wilson. Lighting Designer Alex Jainchill is using dynamic lighting from Elation Professional on the play, including ZCL 360 Bar™ wash/effect lights and Platinum Wash 16R Pro™ moving heads, as well as colour-changing Elation Flex LED Tape™.

UniSon is the story of a dying poet who leaves a mysterious box to his apprentice with strict instructions to destroy it. The apprentice opens it however, releasing seven ‘Terrors’ that tormented the poet through his life. The seven different Terrors allowed Jainchill to use six of the ZCL 360 Bar fixtures to treat the Terrors not featured in the scene in a different way using a saturated colour specific to each.

Six ZCL 360 Bars are hung on a 20' truss about 19' high mid-stage, running stage left to stage right.

In one of Jainchill’s favourite applications of the ZCL, a scene that moves back and forth from a boxing gym to a jazz club, the fixtures begin as a straight down white worklight in a boxing ring. “When we move to the jazz club, we were able to transform the space very efficiently by changing the colour to lavender and putting a small effect in the cells to follow the beat of the music,” Jainchill explains.

From the beginning of the process, Jainchill, ,who has had a long collaboration with play director Robert O’Hara, says it was discussed that the show should have a modern pop concert aesthetic, which meant a fixture capable of doing a very bright, very tight beam was needed. He chose the Platinum Wash 16R Pro, a powerful moving head with beam and wash zoom capability, to achieve the effect and used the fixtures in multiple applications.

Built into the edging of the multiple platforms on the stage deck was Elation’s versatile Flex LED Tape, thin, flexible and bright LED pixel tape, an easy solution for simple colour washing and pixel mapping possibilities. “One of the things we were tasked with in this production was differentiating when actors were quoting August Wilson's poetry,” Jainchill says. “Going into tech we honestly didn't know exactly how we were going to achieve this. We ended up using the Flex LED Tape WP in the deck for this purpose.” Jainchill says that he and director O’Hara called them the ‘August Wilson lights’.

Jainchill thanks OSF Lighting Supervisor Mac Vaughey, projection designer Kaitlyn Pietras, and the entire Stage Ops team at OSF. “This would be a complicated enough show without having to move it in and out of the space multiple times a week for 9 months,” he says.