Don Slater is QTC’s Resident Lighting Designer.
As has been noted in other QTC posts, The Night Alive is my ninth Conor McPherson play. I very much enjoy working on them as his writing style and my lighting style mesh well. My lighting is largely naturalistic to realistic and tends to be on the dark side. McPherson’s plays are similar in nature. This commonality makes the process of lighting the plays a lot easier.
Having worked with Jack and Stephanie for 17 years (and designed for the logistics of The Writer’s Center during that time), we have a very comfortable collaborative process. I read the script through several times, getting a feel for the piece, determining the locations and times of day, and learning something about the characters.
In the case of The Veil and Shining City, there were special effects to create. For those of you who saw The Veil, the ghost of the little girl was a lighting effect, not a projection. The mirror effect at the end of the play was not a reflection – the light was passing through the mirror. The Night Alive does not require any such effects. There has been a bit of speculation about the light swirling above the center of the stage during scene changes. Jack and I discussed how we might create an effect to cover the noise and bustle of the scene changes, especially since the pacing of The Night Alive is important. We had two water effects projectors we used to create part of the environment for Port Authority many years ago. I ran some tests with them and felt that they could work for us. The effect is interesting and serves the purpose as well as generating some questions about what it represents. Like McPherson, I leave that to the audience. The rest of the lighting is straightforward and functional. I tried to keep the scenes sufficiently illuminated and yet dark and spotty at the same time, to complement the sort of life in which the characters are living.