mirrorshard: (The Rose Theatre)
[personal profile] mirrorshard
Went to a concert the other night, with Emma (my sister, wi' no LJ) - probably the longest time we'd spent just the two of us in years. Shooglenifty, at the Famous Spiegeltent, which is to say folkadelica (with banjo and mandolin) in a Victorian-styled takedown venue, all dark wood and mirrors inside. (Emma, who used to work in a large circus, says it's much easier and simpler to put up or take down than a standard Big Top.)

Speaking of *adelic things, the show's going pretty well, with the usual hiccups. I don't get to do nearly as much as I'd like on the theatre front, but coming into an established production after the run's started is always going to do that. What I did get to do is spend most of a day playing around with the Gimp making projector transparencies for the background - there's a TV-styled projection screen as a backdrop, with a couple of OHPs behind it. Now, I need to launch into a good old-style lighting designer rant.

A lot of people these days get obsessed with shiny expensive technology. Sure, you've got Photoshop and computer-controlled video projection, and they're good things to have, but there is really nothing that matches up to an actual piece of kit sitting there, right where you can get at it, and a guy (for, of course, values of "guy" that include girl techies too) sitting over it with a pile of slides. One reason is that it allows more immediate responses and more flexibility if something goes wrong; another is that there's a much shallower learning curve than the technology; a third is that it's much cheaper, which not only means shoestring theatre companies (which is to say, most of them) can afford the kit, they can rehearse with it before moving into a venue with its own. The fourth, which is my favourite, is that it looks more real, more human, less slick and glossy. It takes ages to get that authentic rough-edged, slightly off-alignment look, which will always be slightly different every show, and just feels more lively to me, using the computer versions.

You can also use an OHP for a lot of things the video projector can't. (For those of you not used to them, OHP: OverHead Projector, basically a flat glass plate with a lamp under it and a lens-and-mirror arrangement to project the image forwards. It's one of the most flexible and effective pieces of lighting kit around.) You can, on a whim, put anything you like on the plate - pieces of lighting gel, gobos (pierced and perforated sheets of metal used for projecting patterns), net curtains, bits of mixed foliage nicked from outside the theatre, confetti, and so on. The all-time favourite is a glass bowl of water with various things in it, such as ink clouds, washing-up liquid (used washing-up water looks nicer than fresh), or just ripples.

Going back to *adelic things for a moment... basically, they leave me cold. Give me a nice rich, dense text any day. This show's doing well on character (though there's a lot more of that in the actors' heads than in the performance), but the plot is incredibly sparse and, well, linear. This isn't a criticism, it's not what they're concentrating on, it just doesn't suit what I look for in a play. What it does involve is a lot of complicated trickery with LEDs and misc. sparkly things, held together with solder and gaffer tape and string, and I'm incredibly proud of Emma for what she's done.

I now have my Underbelly pass, too, though I haven't yet got around to going to see any of their other shows. There are a couple that look interesting, including one who share a dressing room with us - We Don't Know Shi'ite, what ordinary Britons know about Islam. The reason I mention the pass, though, is because I had to go get passport photos done, and for once they look passable, possibly because I unbound my hair (no, I didn't take my glasses off. They don't come off while I'm awake. So no "why, Janice, you're beautiful!" comments please). I'm terribly picky about pictures of me, as a number of you will have noticed. (No, I'm not going to post them here, though if there's sufficient demand I may be induced to make a locked post.)

I started reading Clarissa in a spare moment last night, since I had the Gutenberg version on my laptop and idle time before the show. The combination of "ridiculously long" and "nearly unputdownable" is quite irritating. Got through three months' worth.

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