2012

Listed in order, just scroll down to find them – Hansel & Gretel / Biloxi Blues / Medea / The Permanent Way / Kvetch

In December we did a Christmas show, a version of Hansel & Gretel’ written and directed by Helen Nelder.

Peta Taylor was The Narrator, reading from the book of fairytales, and we created a forest setting, complete with trees and the gingerbread house.

I’m always amazed by how much atmospheric effect the NVT team can create in the black box environment of our Studio Theatre.

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Gerry McCrudden had long wanted to direct ‘Biloxi Blues’, and in October we put on Neil Simon’s play. (I did the poster as well as the lighting, and you can see that one on the ‘Posters’ page of this site)

It tells the story of a group of young GIs in World War 2, undergoing basic training before being sent to fight. They learn about comradeship, as well as getting a sexual awakening, and in one sequence the are being moved by train. I set up a slatted blind effect, jiggling it slightly along with the clacking sound of the train carriages over the tracks. In conjunction with Tim McQuillan-Wright’s set, with bunks on scaffolding on all sides of the space, it proved very effective.

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Women don’t come much more frightening than Medea. We did Tom Paulin’s translation of Euripides’ classic in June, with Sarah Davies as Jason’s wife, who slaughters their children in revenge for his betrayal and abandonment.

A wonderful set to light, with white timber panels providing the entrance to Creon’s palace, and the whole staging bathed in glowing red light. Andrew Allen’s production was done in the round, with the audience sitting at tables set out for Jason’s wedding feast, and I had to illuminate the cast as they circled round the walls of the Studio Theatre.

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David Hare’s ‘The Permanent Way’ is constructed out of transcripts of official Enquiries into British rail accidents, and interviews by Hare himself with some of the officials and victims’ families.

A large cast took on multiple roles, becoming by turns passengers, railway staff and officials. Kirsty Elmer’s direction gave us settings ranging from a station concourse to the cramped compartment of a commuter train.

Monologues, too, from survivors of rail crashes as well as the accident investigators. A very sobering evening.

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I’d worked with Steven O’Shea before, designing set as well as lighting on ‘Speed-The-Plow’, so when he asked me to produce the set for January’s production of Steven Berkoff’s ‘Kvetch’ – “a dining table, where the main character brings home a friend for dinner” – I thought it would be easy and quick.

Only after I’d signed up did he tell me that it had to be big and strong enough for four actors to stand on it – and tall enough for two of them to get changed underneath. And with chairs to match, of course: high enough for the characters to sit at their dinner. So no problems there, then. None at all . . .

A wonderful production to light. There’s a dream sequence where the main character is in bed with his wife, when his gay fantasy appears. And another half-located in a bar. The play is structured so that the action occasionally freezes, while someone tells us what they are really thinking, beneath the veneer of politeness.

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