Inspired by Dizzee Rascal’s seminal album Boy in da Corner, Poet in da Corner is a new drama written by young poet Debris Stevenson. It is a coming-of-age piece about a young girl’s experience of hearing grime for the first time and how this influenced the rest of her life. It recently ran at the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Royal Court Theatre, garnishing critical acclaim. As a leading lighting supplier to theatre productions across the UK, WL was called upon to provide the lighting equipment on this occasion.
The lighting designer for the production was Max Narula, who is a past recipient of the ALD’s Michael Northen Bursary and graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He explains: “Poet in da Corner is quite a biographical piece of Debra’s and, over the course of the play, we see glimpses into her life and the various moments which lead her to be the woman she is today. Where as a ‘traditional play’ is prose, Poet in da Corner is a mixture of spoken word, dance and grime music, making it very unique indeed”.
Due to the nature of the project, Max did not have a brief as such but instead became part of the devised process in the rehearsal room. He comments: “There were very few scenic elements to the show, and the ones that were there took up the majority of the fly bars, so I came up with a very simple, yet versatile, rig to create the growing list of different locations that the play demanded. Ola Ince, the director, and myself wanted to make sure we were able to give a sense of a grime concert yet still be able to see and hear all the words clearly – which is very much contradictory as most grime concerts are dark and have flashing, moving lights all over the crowd!”.
Max approached the WL team and worked closely with Senior Account Handler Dan Last to acquire the fixtures he needed. He states: “The Royal Court Theatre has fantastic in-house equipment but no arc moving lights. Due to the hanging plot being so tight, I needed moving lights to replace what could have been a selection of generic lanterns. I approached WL who supplied me with a range of the VL1000 AS which were exactly what I needed. These allowed me to play with colour throughout the show, as well as create various corridors of light”.
The show finished its run earlier last month and achieved critical acclaim. Debris Stevenson has since been nominated for a London Evening Standard Theatre Emerging Talent Award.
Max comments: “I loved working on such a unique show which also my first professional production as the sole lighting designer. I am very thankful to the highly supportive and fantastic team at the Royal Court: Cat Roberts (Production Electrician), Steven Settle (Programmer) and the Head of Lighting Johnny Wilson. It was fantastic to light a show Downstairs at the Royal Court and I want to thank WL and Dan Last for all of their support throughout”.
Photos courtesy of Ali Wright and Jess Revell.