White Light Returns to ArtsEd for MA Season

ArtsEd is a world-renowned centre of excellence for training in the performing arts. As part of its diverse portfolio of training, it offers an MA acting course which focuses on building versatile performers by developing their voice and identity to become bold, brave and ready for the industry. As part of the programme, the students take part in what’s known as the MA Season; an opportunity for them to perform in productions to invited industry guests. Having worked with ArtsEd on several occasions, WL was asked to provide the lighting equipment for this year’s showcase. 



The MA Season consisted of two shows: Fear and Misery in the Third Reich and katzenmusik, with both of these taking place in the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Theatre. Fear and Misery in the Third Reich is made up of a series of playlets that portray 1930’s National Socialist Germany as a land of poverty, fear and violence; with Nazi anti-Semitism running through the core of the play. Conversely, katzenmusik is set in the modern-day fictional town of burnside, where the residents are being split by class divide and income inequality. An isolated crime sets off a chain reaction of social vengeance that results in a viral video of the most gruesome nature…  



The lighting designer for the MA Season 2021 was Alex Musgrave, who explains: “Despite knowing both plays would be using the same lighting rig, I still approached this project as if I was lighting two different plays in separate venues. That way, I am allowing each production the space I need to explore the piece and discover what its needs are and what will aid with the storytelling. Following this, I can then merge the requirements of each piece to see which ideas overlap and what I can combine to make one rig. 











He continues: “For kaztenmusik, the director Sean Linnen’s brief was to ensure it had a very contemporary feel. The play consists of 30+ small scenes in a variety of locations such as a pub, a train station bridge, a school changing room, a flat and even a shopping centre. Each change in location had to be clearly defined by the lighting so we decided to make the transitions as bold as possible, playing with a limitless palette of colour. When it came to Fear and Misery, this was directed by Lucy Sheen, who had a brief of a very stylised film noir type lighting, that could not only serve the narrative but also add an architectural element to the play”. 



Alongside the specific directorial briefs for each play, Alex also had to work alongside the set design. He comments: “The set by Adrian Gee offered an incredible canvas to work on, featuring a high gloss floating square stage that breached the proscenium arch. This also had a flown roof piece that sat at the back of the deck and was angled into the space almost at 45 degrees. A major opening was placed in the roof piece and for Fear and Misery, this was made circular and swapped to square for katzenmusik. We would eventually use this to position practical lights that matched the era of the plays, with Fear and Misery featuring beautiful industrial hanging pendants and katzenmusik making use of fluorescent tube fittings”.  



Alex then approached the Customer Service team at WL to draw on the fixtures he needed; ones he knew would have to be both flexible and practical to offer him the looks he required. He explains: “The set had a lot of practical elements such as LED surrounding the floating deck and an LED rim light around the roof piece. I knew that I wanted to continue the colour changeable theme and used some LED pars to provide light through the upstage aperture. As such, I drew on the Elation SixPar 200: a unit that provided the light output required along with fitting the budget we had for both shows. They were hung close together and created a beautiful light curtain that acted as backlight for both productions. The rest of the rig was comprised of Sola Frame 1000 units, ETC Lustr 2 Frensels, Lustr 2 profiles and various generic fixtures”.  











Interestingly, it wasn’t just the fixtures that Alex used to differentiate between the two shows: “Another way in which I ensured both productions felt completely individual was through the cueing styles. Fear and Misery, apart from the odd occasion, had quite long fade times for cues. They often overlapped and had complex sequences with multiple parts, almost in the style of a ‘long shot’ in film terms. With katzenmusik, the cues were very quick and the establish cue into each scene was a snap, which gave the play that fast pace it needed”.   



The ArtsEd MA Season ran at the end of the Summer to an industry-invited audience. 



Alex concludes: “I would like to thank WL for its continued support, as well as the team at ArtsEd for their hard work in making this production happen. I would especially like to thank Chris Mould who programmed both plays for me as, without his speed and accuracy, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve the style of production we achieved”. 



Photos courtesy of Robin Savage and Steve Gregson. 




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