Seen In Toronto— Flower, Fish, Clouds, Butterflies: One of the more than 400 designers who submitted work to the inaugural World Stage Design exhibit is Ken Flower, whose work was selected for the Gallery Exhibit at WSD and who flew in from his home in Australia for the occasion. His lighting design for the Starlight Express Room at the Westmead Children's Hospital in Australia is his way of "talking to people through imagery and light." With kinetic projections of colorful coral fish, dreamy clouds, and fluttering butterflies dancing on the walls of a lounge for kids, Flower has created a magical space where sick children often forget their pain and express joy. "It's like being in a movie," he says. "The projections are something friendly the kids can relate to. The staff use this game room, that also has Nintendo, television, and crafts activities, as therapy."
Flower used six Martin MAC250 automated luminaires with custom gobos and 56 PAR30 halogen lamps in groups of four, with red, green, amber. and open white. "The optics are so good you can even see the scales on the fish," notes Flower. "The layers give the designs soul." The MAC fixtures are vented through the air-conditioning exhaust to avoid heat build up in the room. The fixtures are controlled by Martin's Light Jockey with LJ touch screens that the kids can use to change the images. The projections are progrmmed with the color-changing lights on slow-fade sequences as to be gentle and not too dominating or overwhelming.
Flower plays with the changing colors, light intensity and moving imagery to address mood and feeling in a positive way while animating the floor and walls, and engaging the kids. The head pediatrician at the hospital saw the response to the room and said, "happy children heal faster!" For Flower, "the experience was very rewarding. It is great to be able to inspire kids through their environment, and use technology and theatrical techniques that date from Svoboda to create these environments."--Ellen Lampert-Gréaux
Seen at the Movies: I keep wanting Woody Allen to return to form, and word was that in his new film Melinda and Melinda, he had. But word was, as ever, unreliable. The movie’s conceit is to take a basic premise—distraught woman bursts in on dinner party and proceeds to wreak havoc in the lives of the characters she encounters, who do their best to wreak havoc back—and play it alternately for tragic and comic effect. Radha Mitchell impressively portrays the title character in both modes, while other roles in the comedy section are taken by Will Ferrell (subbing in persona and intonation for the absent Allen) and Amanda Peet; the putative tragedians include Chloe Sevigny, Jonny Lee Miller, and Chiwetel Ejiofor. The problem is, there’s nothing particularly funny about the former and certainly nothing truly tragic about the latter. They tend to get mixed up, which is part of the movie’s point, but it can make the experience of watching it a little perplexing.
There is also the question, as there so often is anymore with Woody Allen films, of who the characters are, and also how they live. The people on screen seem like wealthy twenty- and thirty-somethings in a time warp somewhere between now and the 1970s. I never thought I’d see Chloe Sevigny cast as a "Park Avenue princess" who spends her days shopping, but here she is, wearing tasteful ensembles (by costume designer Judy Ruskin Howell) arguably more appropriate to someone her mother’s age and being bitchy to her self-loathing husband (Miller). Mitchell’s somewhat grungy and undeniably sexy look is far more persuasive. The star of Melinda and Melinda is really production designer Santo Loquasto, who provides one gorgeously decorated and impeccably lit (by DP Vilmos Zsigmond) interior after another, from a downtown loft space to a more modest but still well appointed Upper East Side townhouse, and the kind of Hamptons beach spread most people in the audience will never be invited to, much less own. I only wonder, do these New York Times House & Home-style settings add to or distract from what’s going on in them? If the tragicomic characters and their parallel storylines were more compelling, the question would never come up.--John Calhoun