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White Light are Old Fools at Southwark Playhouse

old-fools-eHaving now finished its run at the Southwark Playhouse, Old Fools by Tristan Bernays tells the story of Tom and Viv, their love and the life they’ve shared together. Nominated for four OffWestEnd Awards, the show achieved critical acclaim and supported the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK. As a leading lighting supplier to London theatre, White Light was called upon to provide the lighting equipment.

The lighting designer for the show is Peter Small, who is currently lighting the West End smash All or Nothing at the Ambassador’s Theatre. He comments: “The show focuses on Tom and Viv with particular focus on how Tom’s Alzheimer’s affects their relationship over the years. My brief was to light the memories and transitions; both of which had to correlate to Tom’s stage of Alzheimer’s. For instance, we cut to a youthful memory it’s bright and clear with lots of colour and possibility. When we go into a later memory, it’s fairly hollow and bleak.

Peter adds: “Another key factor was ensuring that the lighting should have a sense of fluidity and movement to it. For instance, when Tom tries to recall a certain memory, the light literally gets more in focus around him before suddenly going soft again as he fails to grasp it”.

To create his design, Peter approach WL to draw on the company’s extensive hire inventory. He explains: “I chose VL1000TS in order to supplement the in-house rig. The tungsten source and flexible colour, shutter and zoom range were extremely useful. I looked at using arc and LED but decided that the tungsten source was needed for the rather delicate touch required. Also, the 70° super zoom was key due to the low grid height to get the most out of the units as we were able to take one unit from a full stage wash to a tight special in a live move”.

old-fools-aOld Fools was a little unique for Peter in the sense that there was no set designer. He states: “I asked for a pale coloured floor as it would allow me to do more with the lighting; letting me treat it as a cyc. Similarly, as the Southwark is a rather intimate space, this meant that the VL1000s are in close proximity to the audience. As a result, this meant that they were a lot more audible; something you don’t really want during quiet scenes. We soon discovered that this was due to the limitation of the 8bit control over the motors so, after a swift notes session translating all the mark times into fixture times, the problem disappeared”.

Peter adds: “This show required a great ‘lightness of touch’ which could only be discovered after a lot of attendance in rehearsal and concept meetings. As a result, I had to put in a lot of time prior to the project in order to obtain the level of detail I was looking for”.

Old Fools is one of several shows that WL has supplied at the venue over the past few months, including Angry, Dessert, The Life, Mother Courage and Her Children and Working.

Peter comments: “I had a great time working at the Southwark Playhouse and the in-house team were nothing but helpful. I also want to say thanks once again to WL for their support on another of my productions”.

Photos courtesy of Nat James.