Charlie Spickler believes in color. Or, as he says, "I am very, very color-oriented." Lighting "An Obituary--Heiner MYller: A Man Without a Behind," one of two plays dealing with MYller at Castillo Theatre (located in downtown Manhattan) where Spickler is resident LD, proved to be the perfect opportunity to drench the theatre in shades of fuschia, red, and green. The abstract piece, dealing with issues ranging from language to fascism to the body, is a series of sketches by Fred Newman (Castillo's artistic director) with selected texts from the writer, and includes scenes of MYller and an interviewer, of MYller as a child (pictured above, played by a female actor), and of MYller as a young man finding his wife's body after she has committed suicide, among others.
Sounds like a lot? To protect the audience from too much too soon, Spickler created a design that was fairly minimal in the beginning, leading to an explosion of red during the last scene of the first act, culminating in a medley of cobalt, fuschia, and teal as the overture starts at the beginning of Act II. The designer describes it as a "big wave of color that happens--from the red. You think the red is giving birth to all this other color."
One of the most effective and striking effects is the use of a new Rosco floral template in Act II, which consists of leaves and swirls projected onto the stage as cast members slowly move in a circle upstage left as other action occurs center stage and stage right. The hypnotic quality underscores the notion of a dreamlike state, crucial to Spickler's vision of the play. "It seemed to be a dream to me--real yet unreal. With the cast upstage doing this walk through the entire thing, it's as if these images out of MYller's past, out of his present, from his mind are all there. It's as if all these things are living in MYller's brain."
Equipment-wise, Spickler used approximately 60 instruments, all owned by the theatre, among them eight Altman 360Q axial 6x9s with HX600 lamps, six Altman axial 3 1/2x5s with HX600 lamps, and six Altman 10" 400W scoops. His control board was an ETC Microvision FX. In terms of color, Spickler relied on Lee 106 Primary Red ("I love that red"), Lee 115 Peacock Blue, and GAM 845 Cobalt. GAM 140 Magenta was also key: "I really, really wanted that backlight in the PARs to be noticed and seen on the costumes and the floor, and the magenta really punched through even though there was all this other color going on."
The LD also used cool white light for the scenes between MYller and the interviewer; in contrast to the rest of the play these scenes convey a naturalistic though stark feel. When that look was called for, Spickler placed Lee 202 (half-correction blue) in the instruments. Spickler hung a practical over the huge oil cans on which the actors sat (as though the two were seated at cafe tables) to light the interview scenes, and he also used a 3 1/2 with Roscolux 08 Pale Gold, which "supported the practical, just to fill in the faces--it was a flat-on angle. I like to use that with practicals; it's a just a bit more pointy; it punches it a little."