Johan Persson

White Light Goes Unto The Breach at Hampstead Theatre

Having first played to international audiences back in 2019, Naomi Wallace’s powerful drama The Breach recently had its UK premiere at the Hampstead Theatre in London. Set in Kentucky, it’s an absorbing drama which focuses on a group of teenage friends and explores the consequences of what happens when trust and loyalty is put on the line. The lighting designer for the show is the Olivier and Tony Award-winning Rick Fisher, who approached White Light (WL) to supply his lighting rig. 






The Breach marks Rick’s swift return to the Hampstead, having lit ‘night, Mother’ late last year. He comments: “I was a reasonably late addition to the design team for The Breach. The set by Naomi Dawson was already designed and approved and it was a very abstract environment for a play that could have been staged naturalistically in a basement or on a front porch in the US. Taking place across the two different time periods of 1977 and 1991, the set was a large grey raked platform with one raised bench area upstage along with a grey BP screen with a black gauze in front of it”.  






As such, a lot of Rick’s design was there to accentuate the set along with the action that played out on stage. He states: “I was told from the outset that there would be some projection for a climatic scene on the raked floor so I knew that sidelight would be important and everyone agreed this would become a defining look for the play. Late in day, the director also intimated that we might want to shape the stage with light as well, where we previously talked about not localising any of the scenes in the space”. 






Knowing his creative brief and what he had to achieve, Rick then contacted the Hire team at WL in order to acquire the fixtures he needed. He explains: “I looked to hire some framing profile spots along with some Lustr profiles and cyc lighting for the larger BP screen upstage that was NOT to be projected on! I also knew I might want different looks to help define which period of time we were in. After a lot of to and fro and working with the limited budget we had, we landed on a package of eight VL 1100s (five Tungsten and three Arc) along with ten ETC ColourSource Cyc Floods. These all allowed me to respond to any requests to create shapes of light on stage, as well as add front light to wherever the actors might be blocked and choose colour for the BP as desired”.  











Part of Rick’s role was to work closely with Tim Kelly, who was responsible for Projection Content, to ensure the projection worked closely with the lighting design throughout the piece. Rick explains: “Projectors can often be used to provide subtle floor lighting cover more effectively than any conventional or moving light. Similarly, I was keen to make sure that the video content for the climatic scene did not come out of nowhere, so we decided to use the unique quality of this projection light and interweave it throughout the play. It was quite experimental and, in the end, the side light did do most of the lighting and while we did initially use the VL1100 TS during tech to pick our performers, we found we could actually replace a lot of these with in-house specials. For me, this was a very satisfying way to work using moving lights as it allowed me as a designer to respond to the moment in tech, and then rationalise the rig to what is necessary as the show settled down in previews and throughout the run”. 






The Breach ran in the Hampstead Theatre’s main space from 6-28th May 2022.






Rick concludes: “I’d like to say a big thanks Rob Halliday, who was my Associate LD and Imogen Clarke who programmed the show, along with the brilliant Hampstead in-house team of Miguel Figueiredo, and Hannah Fisher. A big thanks also to the Hires team at WL”.  




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