Mimi Jordan Sherin says she used four rolling units (Ianiro 10" 5Ks on Mole Richardson film stands), which the actors also manipulate, "to make it as cinematic as possible - as close to Orson Welles as possible - in terms of angles and of light in his movies and in the frames." Budgetary concerns did not allow for the use of actual film lights, so Sherin made do with the 5Ks on film stands.
"It's my story," asserts the Welles character during his introduction, but he is not merely the piece's subject matter; he is also the designers' inspiration. This is particularly true for Sherin, whose lighting, with its clear and white tones, suggests the black-and-white world of the director's cinema. Yet the lighting is by no means colorless throughout. The LD suffuses the stage with a peculiarly unpleasant yellow at times and also accents the white with an elegant lavender.
The yellow, Sherin says, "was the nastiest yellow that I could come up with. It was a combination of two yellows to make it look sickly - and it was intentional - and to wipe the eye. It was a huge statement." Lee 010 (Medium Yellow) and Lee 100 (Spring 100) creates the purposely nauseating color. Yellow is also manipulated for gentler ends, serving to warm up the scenes set in Rio or, as Sherin puts it, "to literally get sun onstage."
She added lavender (Roscolux 355 Pale Violet) to the white light because "it makes white light elegant, especially when you are dealing with black." And then there was the play between the lighting and the metal frame. Says Sherin, "Lavender really makes metal zing." Sherin also commandeers Welles' love of shadow, particularly in the aforementioned magician scene in which shadows change in size with Welles dwarfing the other character and vice versa.
And for a man with an "octopus of an ego" (as one character exclaims), a Lycian 1275 Super Star 1.2kW HMI followspot zeroes in on Welles from the back of the house. Sherin also relied on what she deems "old-fashioned" beam projectors. "I keep saying I am going to retire if they were to stop making them," she says, adding that she relies on their tendency to "focus badly" and to "make beautiful floor patterns." The rest of the equipment is essentially ETC Source Fours for crosslight, PAR-64s, and ARRI Studio Babys, the latter for diagonal frontlight. Sherin placed MR-16 footlights on trunions in front of the stage.
As part of the design, Sherin hung a series of industrial-looking practicals covered with metal cages that featured clear 150W bulbs. As much a part of the scenery as the lighting, these perfectly positioned rows of lights create a symmetry that reveal Sherin's attempt "to unify the space." She notes that "Neil [Patel] added the cages to make them look unusual" - a word that perhaps best sums up both Welles' and the SITI Company's idiosyncratic styles.