Great Game

A light in Minneapolis

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 by Great Game

It’s Monday and the Guthrie Theater team and David Taylor, Lighting Designer, are preparing the McGuire Proscenium in Minneapolis before the cast and set arrive from Washington DC…

“The lighting plots for each theatre are prepared weeks in advance and electronically transferred to the receiving theatres. In the case of the Guthrie, there are two senior lighting people – Tom Mays, the lighting supervisor, and Ryan Connealy, the resident Assistant Lighting Designer – to help transition the show into the proscenium theatre. In addition to the management team there is a Master Electrician, a board operator (who is in charge of the computer that records and plays back the lighting cues) and a hearty crew of union electricians.

Ryan and Tom

Ryan and Tom

The electrics crew take strips of the lighting plot specially mounted on cardboard to the locations in the house and stage where the lighting will be rigged and prepare the equipment, raise it into place and connect it to the house dimming system.

Ryan and I spent much of Monday making some changes to the lighting plot to better fit the specific staging location in the McGuire, and to allow everything that needs to hang in the stage such as the fluorescent light for ‘Miniskirts of Kabul’, the chandelier in ‘Honey’ and the screens in ‘Tulips’.

All of this work is coordinated and explored in a shared computer program that records the lighting equipment and connections, and generates all the paperwork to ensure that the crew work safely and efficiently and the lighting looks great. A solid network in the theatre lets us work wherever we want to, but the lighting team are working on two large tables (commissioned by another well-known lighting designer) in the center of the auditorium – we are utilizing the “Full Billington” and it is quite comfortable. A separate workspace will appear for Nick tomorrow, as well as one for sound and video.

The Guthrie is an amazing piece of architecture (by Jean Nouvel) but it is terribly easy to get lost in – I spent 15 minutes trying to get from one side of the theatre wall to the other, where I needed to work, and this afternoon a huge class of school children flooded down the stage exit stairs, lost on a school trip somewhere in the building. Walking around, there are amazing views of the Mississippi river and the city through deep windows out of the dark lobbies and bars. This is going to be an interesting place to create the show again.

It is great to be in this wonderful city and I expect there will be an awesome response from the audience.”