Following its critically-acclaimed premiere at the Manchester International Festival in 2015, Tree of Codes arrived in London last week for a sell-out run at Sadler’s Wells. The show is a collaboration between Wayne McGregor, Jamie xx and artist Olafur Eliasson and is based upon Jonathan Safran Foer’s book of the same name. Having supplied the original show two years ago, as well as elements of the rig for the show’s run at the Garnier Opera House in Paris this January, White Light supplied the lighting for the latest performances at Sadler’s Wells.
Tree of Codes sees 15 dancers, formed of both Wayne McGregor’s Company along with the Paris Opera Ballet, explore Eliasson’s visual concept which mirrors the spiritual aspects of the book; reflecting the audience’s gaze back at themselves as they are immersed into this strange world. The Lighting Realiser on the production is Rob Halliday. He comments: “My role on the show was to work closely with Wayne and Olafur, taking their ideas, creating a lighting rig which could achieve all that was required, and then working to deliver those ideas, and more, on stage. I’ve subsequently adapted the design for the show’s runs in quite different venues in New York (at the remarkable Park Avenue Armory), in Paris (at the Garnier Opera House) and most recently at Sadler’s Wells.”
The practical side of the show’s lighting is it’s need to work around and support the visually striking set. He comments: “The set includes an upstage mirror which has two arched doors that open, along with a giant half mirror that tilts backwards and forwards, and then an enormous dichroic screen with two rotating discs within it. All of these required great care, often to not light them directly while lighting performers immediately adjacent to them.”
For the rig, Rob drew on a range of fixtures including ETC Source Four Lustr 2s, EvenLED LED cyc-lighting units, Martin Viper Performances, Vari*Lite VL1000AS and ETC Revolutions. Rob states: “We opted for the Lustr2s as they allow us to achieve a wide colour range that works wonderfully for the show, particularly simulating the colour shift of low pressure sodium lights (which we have a line of) as they warm up. I opted to use the EvenLED LED tile, in an 11×7 array, partly because in Manchester we had very little room behind the cyc, but also because of its great colour range and fade quality, and ability to create dynamic transitions across the cyc.
“Overheard, we have a core rig of Martin Viper Performance moving lights as I needed a bright, discharge moving light with framing capabilities both to create shapes on stage and to keep light off the mirrored surface of the set. The entire rig is controlled via an ETC Eos, making use of the console’s colour fade path functionality particularly with the Lustr2s.”
The show sold out during its London run and achieved critical acclaim, with many commenting on its unique style and extraordinary aesthetics. Rob adds: “The lighting on the show is what links everything together: the dancers to the scenery to the music, in ways that are visually quite stunning.”
Followings its successful London run, the show will now visit Musikhuset Aarhus in Denmark, with White Light once again supplying elements of the rig including the Lustr2s, EvenLED and Eos control system.
Rob comments: “Tree of Codes is a fantastic show and one I am very proud of. It was a delight to work with Wayne and Olafur and everyone at the Manchester Festival, a tremendously supportive organisation and a wonderful place to create new work.”
Photos courtesy of Joel Chester Fildes and Ravi Deprees.