White Light has supplied the lighting equipment for Night of the Living Dead LIVE! which is currently spooking audiences at The Pleasance Theatre, London.
Based on the iconic George A. Romero film, Night of the Living Dead LIVE! tells the story of a group of strangers holed up in a farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania. With hoards of the undead approaching, will any of them make it out alive? The show is lit by Nic Farman, who comments: “I hadn’t actually seen the film version prior to working on the show but I allowed myself to watch the first 20 minutes. This was so I could get a feel for the style of the cinematography, but also not become fixated on recreating the film on stage from a lighting point of view”.
Despite not wanting to be an imitation of the film, the production did remain true to the Romero classic. Nic explains: “The interesting thing about the show is that we’ve tried to recreate it as if it were a black and white film. The Designer Diego Pitarch has created a monochrome set of the interior of the farmhouse in which the action is set. The costumes are all black and white and the actors are in make up to appear greyscale. My brief was to buy into that concept and to keep us in a black and white world, which was quite daunting, especially as creating a rich colour palette is often part of my work.
He continues: “The first act stays quite faithful to the film, but as the show moves forward, it becomes a number of ‘what if’ scenarios. As a result, towards the end I was able to start sneaking colour back in as the action on stage gets more frantic and ridiculous. It’s been interesting working out how to create certain parts of the show when colour has been stripped away. For example, there are a lot of fire effects through the show outside of the scenic windows so we spent a long time playing with intensity effects with pure white light to achieve those looks”.
To achieve his design, Nic approached WL to draw on a range of suitable fixtures. He explains: “We have a number of Martin MAC Viper Performances on this show which are mainly used as a gobo wash in the wonderful pure white they produce. We also use their animation wheel capabilities each time the show ‘resets’ for the next scenario. Initially I thought the limited colour palette would be restricting but, as the show developed, it became really striking. It came down to trying a number of options, including introducing some blue key light in an attempt to sell the black and white. In the end we pulled all colour for the majority of the show and the quality of the white light output the Vipers have gave us the best results”.
He adds: “The key light through the windows and doorways is a combination of Showline SL Bar 640s, Chroma-Q Colorforce 12s and GLP XBar 20s. A number of High End Dataflashes gave me the classic horror strobe which works to reveal a number of the ‘Ghouls’. The rig is completed by Martin Mac TW1s which allowed me to be flexible on specials with a nice soft edge. This was really important to give us control of what we were seeing on stage as we stripped back to near darkness in trying to create as scary an atmosphere as possible”.
Night of the Living Dead LIVE! runs until 8th June 2019. It has been extremely well received by audiences and has also been nominated for a host of OffWestEnd Awards, including Best Lighting Design.
Nic concludes: “Thanks, as ever, goes to Jonathan Haynes and Chris Delaney at WL for their support throughout. Also thanks to Production Electrician Sam House, Nick Ward and the rest of the team at The Pleasance who worked hard to ensure the show developed as I hoped”.
Photos courtesy of Clare Bilyard.