Pirates of the Carabina

The new show Relentless Unstoppable Human Machine began being designed when we were out working with their previous show, Flown. Barnz sketched out the idea for the set on a scrap of paper. It involved a main kingpole that traversed across the stage, and rotated. A grand piano that lifted up in the air to accompany Ellis Grover as he walked a highwire. A staircase that collapsed. A bunch of new and tricky gags and what turned out to be a big bold and beautiful set.

We had begun work on the show in the excellent Pontio Theatre in Bangor but by the time it got to The Roundhouse it had been considerably re-written. I used the Ponto showfile as a basis for the show and we worked on adding new scenes and opening up the existing ones.

The Roundhouse provided me with a great stock of lighting instruments. With The Pirates I like to work with a lot of incandescent lights as the tungsten suits them, both in colour and dimming curve. Then we add LED washes for punch and saturation, Robe washes with shutter blades to tightly frame acts such as the tightwire and trapeze. Plus plenty of spots for solo spots and texture.

I was only scheduled to set it up and program the show so that it could be handed over to the house technician to run for the rest of the festival. We worked closely together to get a cue stack that was simple but effective and versatile, with some room for manual additions.

The nature of the set, and the range of the performances along with the superb musical score was just a gift to a lighting designer and it was a joy to work with; and as always with circus, a challenge as performers insist on leaving the ground.

We look forward to doing this one again.

Photography by Mark Robson at IneptGravity