David Gordon plays a stage director and author in a work he wrote, choreographed, and directed: Beginning Of The End Of The…, a delightfully poignant 60-minute piece running at Joyce Soho through June 30, 2012.
His premise is based on texts by Pirandello, set to music by Puccini, with a touch of Fellini, as his characters are indeed in search of an author as well as meaning to their lives. The challenge for lighting designer Jennifer Tipton was the small size of the black box theatre, and the fact that almost everything about the production was black: the room, the set, the costumes.
“I had wanted to paint the ceiling white so that I could use it, rather than bounce cards but that was too expensive for the company to do,” explains Tipton, who used white bounce cards on the ceiling for some of the lights in her rig, primarily ETC Source Fours.
“Perhaps my choice of using little color was made because of the black but I suspect it was made primarily because there was so little light. Joyce Soho does not allow any additional dimmers to be added to the set-up.”
Tipton’s choice of the bounce cards was because the ceiling was so low. “I knew from the beginning that light in the upper reaches of the room (head height) would be a problem,” she explains.” As I said earlier I wanted to paint the ceiling white, but I think the bounce cards were in the end a much better option. If it had been the ceiling we (the audience) would have had bright blotches in our eyes. With bounce cards the blotches were hidden.”
The only color Tipton added was a system of Lee 161 that she used for various scenes like a garden scene, where large black sheets of paper in frames that had large letters marked STAGE had been flipped first to white to indicate a doctor’s office (with the word DOCTOR) then to green for the garden (stating GARDEN). “Of course the Lee 161 alone was too dark so it was always used in conjunction with white light at a low reading,” the designer notes.
For a space like this one—small, dark, with a low ceiling— Tipton’s solution of bounced light works well, with the faces of the dancers always clearly visible, while there is also a fixture on a stand pushed around the stage by the performers for added effect as a special. Gordon sits at a table upstage center with a desk lamp illuminating his script as he directs a company of nine performers. These include his wife Valda Setterfield, who plays the leading lady and his wife, as the piece blurs the line of life and art in a cleverly constructed way, and Gordon celebrates the 50-year mark of his career as he and Setterfield continue their journey through life as artists, parents, and grandparents.