Light Plot Deconstructed


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Scenic and Lighting Design for


directed by Kathleen Marshall
produced by Maryland Arts Festival, Baltimore, MD. 

 chess 1
Our approach dealt mainly with the love that develops between Florence and Anatoly, and how they are just pawns in a larger game. The pawns have no control over the game, and despite their best intentions, are forced to play the part assigned to them by those in control of the game. This approach was made clear by the permanent part of the scenery which consisted of the chess board painted in perspective, and the vertical construct behind, designed to loom over the action.

 Into the permanent set, pieces were added as needed to delineate each different space. Here a simple set piece and chairs create a space for a press conference in a hotel conference room.

We also controlled the space by opening or closing a black traveler, revealing all, some, or none of the cyc behind, as in this hotel room.

The center of the story in Chess is a international chess tournament between an American and a Russian champion. Again, simple added pieces define the space. The lighting keyed off of this conflict as well. At the beginning, most of the light, especially in the tournament scenes, came from strong diagonals highlighting the conflict between the two sides, centered on the chess table. As the love story grew, the lighting softened in both angle and colour. By the end of the show, however, the two lovers are shown to be just pawns in a larger game, and the diagonals came back with a vengeance.

One of the most well known songs from Chess is "One Night In Bangkok," which was a top 40s hit. Different spaces were again defined by control of the colour and size of the cyc, here completely open, and by adding small pieces of scenery as needed.

"One Night In Bangkok," was a major dance number in the show, so it allowed more use of saturated colour and angles to highlight the decadence of a late night bar hop.


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