Working with scenic designer Douglas Stein, LD David Weiner is responsible for two of the spring's most elegant-looking Off Broadway productions. First was36 Views, at the Joseph Papp Public Theatre (which opened first at the Berkeley Repertory in Berkeley, CA). Naomi Iizuka's art-history puzzle play is laid out in 36 scenes and features a cast of forgers, smugglers, and con artists involved in machinations around a supposed Japanese art treasure. Weiner was challenged to create a variety of looks that advanced the action and worked with Stein's design (moving shoji screens and a deck designed to look like a Go board) and Ruppert Bohle's video projections.

To sort it all out, Weiner says he took the script's many complex visual ideas, as well as each concept from Stein, Bohle, and director Mark Wing-Davey, and input it all into an Excel spreadsheet. “It's 30 pages long,” he says, “and it documents every visual idea. It's a cue list for everything — what happens, who it effects, what the projection is at that moment.” The spreadsheet was passed around and evolved with the production.

With lighting cues that were precisely calibrated to the dimensions of the Go tiles on the deck, Weiner's lighting constantly created different playing areas. “We kept cutting the space, using geometry and architecture,” the LD says. The calculations included the movement of the shoji screens: “We worked out 6' mini-striplight breakdowns for them — they were circuited individually, because you never knew where the screens would be.” Although most of the LD's rig was made up of ETC Source Four units, he also used a line of fluorescent units just below the projection screen hung at the rear of the stage; he also depended enormously on six City Theatrical AutoYokes: “Without them I would have needed another 200 specials,” he adds. (A High End Systems Technobeam® was also used to create a car headlights effect.) Control was provided by an ETC Obsession II console.

Boys and Girls, produced by Playwrights Horizons, looks at a lesbian couple who adopt a child then ask their best friend, a gay man, to move in and act as father figure. Trouble is, he can't get free of his ex, a cheater and a drunk. This attempt at a new kind of family proves every bit as dysfunctional as the traditional format. Stein designed a box of white walls, with a spiral staircase, and a single revolving interior T-wall unit. “The trick was to make it clear where we were” in each scene, says Weiner, who adds that the men's dialogues tended towards stage right with the women generally at stage left.

To suggest locations, Weiner made discreet use of patterns (e.g., window blinds) and one strong directional idea — 2kW fresnels through a doorway to create a stong natural shadow, or a series of 1kW fresnel backlights representing architectural downlights. “The problem was how to cut the space,” he says, adding that he did so with “a series of slashes.” Wybron CXI scrollers were used to tone the white surround to push and pull the temperature of each scene. Again, AutoYokes played a key role, this time in transitions. “They allowed me to pick out things here and there as needed,” the LD says. Also, “We had two 5kW fresnels, one in each upstage corner, to create single-source shadows for transitions — as the T-wall unit was revolved, it would create its own slash on the floor in shadow.” These units were from Altman, with the rest of the rig made up of ETC Source Fours, all under the control of an Obsession II console. Lighting equipment for both productions was supplied by Fourth Phase.

36 Views, which received generally good reviews, earned Weiner both Outer Critics Circle and Lucille Lortel nominations; it closed in mid-April. Boys and Girls ran at Playwrights Horizons through June 9. The LD remains busy; this winter he completed a commercial for Visa which pays tribute to Broadway and he recently designed the new drama Under the Blue Sky at Williamstown Theatre Festival.