White Light Supplies You Are Here at Southwark Playhouse

Like many venues across the UK, the Southwark Playhouse recently reopened its doors to welcome a live-audience for the first time in months. The opening show was You Are Here, a brand-new musical set on the night of the moon landing. Featuring a lighting design by Alex Musgrave, he approached White Light to provide the lighting equipment. 






Produced by Grey Area Theatre and starring Wendi Peters, You Are Here is set in Chicago and follows the story of Diana; a suburban housewife who leaves her comfortable life after seeing the moon-landing astronauts take their own giant leaps. By doing so, she enters a fast-changing world filled with unexpected encounters which make her realise just how exciting life can be. Lighting Designer Alex Musgrave comments: “My main brief for the show was to try and evoke the warm feeling of the late 60’s/ early 70’s American architecture whilst ensuring that Diana was always at the forefront of the narrative. I was also tasked with defining multiple different locations around the city of Chicago which Diana visits and my design had to make it clear to the audience where we physically were in the story”. 











Although rehearsals took place in-person at the Southwark Playhouse’s rehearsal studio, the room capacity limit meant that Alex actually had to work entirely online. He explains: “For me, rehearsals were completely remote, either via Zoom or via videos of various sections of show. Working from the brief, I wanted to design a rig that was ultimately going to give me the greatest amount of flexibility possible. Knowing how many different locations within the story we were going to be visiting, I knew we would need a combination of moving lights and LED fixtures. The set design by Libby Todd is made up of two overlapping moons as the stage area, designed in the thrust configuration, along with a gorgeous wall that looks like every stone fireplace you would find in a 60/70’s era home”. 






And while the production was going to be performed to a live audience, Alex and the team still had to adhere to the various restrictions in place. He explains: “One of the only major obstacles with this production was trying to mount a show whilst staying within the government guidelines. Singing to a live audience means the cast can’t be any closer than 3m. When you have audience on three sides, that immediately limits the stage area the cast can perform on. One of the many safety measures the Southwark Playhouse have in place are Perspex screens between each ticket booking, so the glare from these was something I had to consider when focusing the show. Similarly, like a lot of shows being made at the moment, there is also an option to live-stream the production so I had to take into account how the lighting would look on screen, as well as on stage”. 











Knowing all of this, Alex reached out to WL’s Customer Service team to discuss the fixtures needed and the various options that were available. He explains: “After much discussion, I ended up using the ETC ColorSource profile range along with the JB Lighting – VaryLED A7 Zoom wash lights. The A7 Zooms had two uses. Some were allocated to provide backlight for the production and the others were placed in a front-of-house position and used in more of a follow-spot capacity. As such, they are able to track Diana throughout the entire show and are essentially in a different position for almost every single cue. They also zoom to a very nice half body size when I really needed to focus in on certain characters”.  






He adds: “Because of the brief and the need for some distinction between things such as a lift and train carriages, I knew I needed a moving light with a framing system. I looked at various fixtures and decided to use the Robe DLS Profile fixture which was great as it fell below the weight limit for the rig at the Southwark Playhouse. The Robe DLS profile was placed fairly central as it was used for all of the specific moments which needed the framing system and also the times when I needed to add texture to a scene. In terms of the ColorSource Profiles, these were placed in a general pipe end position which gave me great flexibility and were able to be used as a full stage wash when needed”.     






The show has now opened and will run until June 12th.  






Alex concludes: “It’s been great to be back working on a live show and we’re delighted with the response we’re received from audiences. I’d just like to say a big thank you to WL for their continued support throughout this production and look forward to working with them again in the future”. 






Photos © Callum Heinrich




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