After working in Europe for 20 years, choreographer Karole Armitage and her company, Armitage Gone! Dance, returned to New York last fall with in this dream that dogs me at the Duke Theatre on 42nd Street. An upcoming tour includes Rome in April and France in May, followed by US dates in 2007. LD Aaron Copp was challenged by the small size of the Duke and the décor created by visual artist David Salle. “Although the piece will tour, we ultimately had to serve the Duke first,” says Copp. “The space is very small with a low ceiling, and the set dictated a very specific approach. There were no wings to bury things in.”
The environment features three red walls that embrace the stage, with 40' of soft, silvery, industrial pipe (like a long dryer hose in Mylar) that snakes along the upstage wall. Stage left, a yellow curtain contrasts with the silver and red, creating a striking visual tableau. “There are quite dramatic shifts between the scenes,” says Copp, who used different washes on the snake, in Lee 161 and 201. “I wanted to play with the snake's presence or absence or see it almost in silhouette. It is very reflective and becomes very active if there is any light at all on stage.”
Denied the use of wings for sidelight, Copp opted for very steep angles in order to control the way the light hit the walls and control spill. A rig of ETC Source Fours® is used with gels in primarily blue and lavender (sidelight in R54 and Lee 201, backlight in Lee 161 and clear, and front light in R55 and Lee 132). Strips of 4' T5 fluorescent tubes run along the bottom of each wall, hidden behind a 6" ground row masking. “The fluorescents are color-corrected with R36 and Lee 209 upstage and R33 and Lee 209 along the side,” notes Copp, who added a few clear Source Fours at about 25% to light the yellow curtain and some 19° Source Fours to light a cello player in one of the scenes. Copp's programmers (on an ETC Expression console) were Justin McClintock, production electrician, and Robert Kostick, while Sarah Phykitt serves as technical director.
“Karole likes a very soft, almost directionless look, as if you were in fog and couldn't tell exactly where the light is coming from,” adds Copp. “She doesn't like gobos or anything that's decorative.” LD Clifton Taylor also lights for Armitage, and at Jacob's Pillow in August, the two designers will work out a repertory plot for the American tour, “so we can coexist peacefully,” says Copp.