Posts

The House of Atreus – Lighting Design by Jim Hutchison

Now that my semester is over and I have a chance to comb through hundreds of photos from the unbelievable season of shows that we do here where I teach, I can blow some smoke up the rear of my design career and show some pics of the last 6 months of my life as a lighting designer!  I got my butt kicked over this last semester, but I did a lot of design work, including a break in the apparent hiatus I had over the last decade in writing music for shows.  I love being able to write music and record it for a show I’m lighting – for some reason the two design areas just meld so well in my head.

The show that I’m starting with here is called The House of Atreus, written by one of our newly tenured professors, Lance Marsh, and produced at Oklahoma City University’s School of Theatre, where I am the Head of Lighting Design and Technology.  “Atreus,” as we affectionately call it, is based on Aeschylus’ Oresteia.  Lance wrote four plays, and we ended up producing plays #2 and #3 as a two “act” performance.  Plays #1 and #4 were done as live readings done late night after the produced works.

This show was dark, as you can imagine – the stories, the performances, the music, as as much as I could possibly work it in, the lighting design.  I worked a lot within shadows, playing lines of text with light, and using the scenic design as the basis for the crazy ideas I had for the actual house of the House of Atreus.  At the time that I was in the design phase for Atreus, I had also just finished my shoulder surgery, and I had this ridiculously gnarly bruise from the nerve block performed on my arm for surgery.  Consequently, if you have never had an upper-extremty nerve block, it leaves your upper extremity, in this case my right arm, dangling like a warm roll of salami (pardon the description, but it’s totally accurate) from your shoulder.  So, just to give you an idea about what the bruise looked like, here’s the bruise.  Sorry, it’s freaking graphic:

So one day I’m standing by the mirror getting ready for work, and as I’m putting the sling on my arm I noticed the bruise, and it hit me – that is the PERFECT image to make into a gobo to project onto the door of the actual house of Atreus!  There is so much that happens inside that house – a wife murders her husband, children murder their mother and her lover, and all kinds of gore and misery comes from inside this house.  I took a pic of the bruise and toned it a little towards the monochromatic magenta side to match what was going on the door in terms of paint treatment.  The gobo image looked like this:

I called Rick Hutton from InLight Gobos to make me a full color glass gobo of the bruise image, and Rick made me an awesome B-sized gobo.  Because of the way that InLight Gobos does their process, the very fine detailed points of the gobo were able to be focused and sharpened in the fixture, which to me as a designer was essential!  Check out the gobo from Rick:

This was kind of a bittersweet production for me, just simply because in the middle of the dress rehearsal week, some ass hat stole my DSLR and lenses out of the theatre while I was either in the scene shop or walking to the bathroom – so I got one good shot of the gobo completely focused perfectly, and a bunch of shots before we got the focus correct.  We switched to a larger throw barrel after the production shots I actually DID get before my camera was stolen, so please forgive the mis-cut projection in the images below.  Hopefully you’ll still enjoy the shots!  Here’s the perfectly focused gobo on the door to the house of Atreus – throughout the play I would fade this image in and out to accentuate the action.  My team and I felt like we really succeeded in using the image to its full potential.  Thank you for making such an awesome gobo, Rick and Adri!!!

Here’s some production shots – I included a few of my favorite in full size, then I put the entire set into a gallery for your convenience – just click on a thumbnail to open a gallery view!

Agamemnon’s dead, and it’s about to be game on:

Elektra praying at the altar:

Cassandra proselytizing the Furies:

The death of Agamemnon at the hands of Clytemnestra:

Thanks to Jeremy Fisher (my ALD) and Jason Foreman (scenic designer) for their photos!

Need to Pause – Back on Thursday!

Hi everybody.

I want to just give you a quick heads up – I am going to be AWOL for the next two days until my current show gets out of tech.  Thanks for being understanding – I know many of you are in the very same situation!

I’ll be back on Thursday – until then, wish me luck!  I hope this finds you all doing great!

Jim