Mark Fisher, production designer for Roger Waters’ The Wall tour, says the goal of restaging this show, which hadn’t been performed in 30 years, was to “recreate the original show, but also to add to it using present-day video technology in place of the 35mm film projection that we used back in 1980.”
Two years ago, Waters finished a tour in which he played Dark Side of the Moon in its entirety for half the show. Based on that experience, the artist felt that revisiting a performance of The Wall was achievable. “I knew from my experience of big arena shows like AC/DC and Tina Turner that it would be possible to recreate the 1980 show using 2010 technology and end up with a 26-truck production that could load-in and play on the same day,” says Fisher. “I sketched out a production and rehearsal timetable with Andrew Zweck, the tour director. The most important thing I emphasized was that he allow enough time for technical rehearsal of the brick-building.”
Sean Evans of Deadskinboy Design in New York is the creative director for the tour. “Toward the end of last year, we came up with the idea that we wanted to be able to flood the wall with images, edge to edge, as well as have very specific mapping,” he says. “We wanted to be able to project an image that would land on the same exact brick every night. We wanted to be able to do projected optical illusions that would bend or distort the bricks as in ‘Run Like Hell’ or ‘Last Bricks.’”
The massive wall—of course there’s a wall—is built nightly, brick by brick, by 20+ carpenters as the performance unfolds, with projections progressively adding onto it, mapped brick by brick. The wall is 240'x30' when complete, dimensionally a facsimile of the 1980 set. The crew actually has to build the full wall before every show at load-in, so the projector team can aim and focus the projector banks. They then tear it down to the walk-in look and start again for the opener. The building of the wall gradually conceals the band from the audience. The show’s head carpenter is Denny Rich.
The creative team prototyped the updated wall-building machinery and bricks at Tait Towers from March to June this year, and had one month of technical rehearsal in the arena, during which the carpentry crew worked on integrating the wall building and the projection. “Unlike in 1980, the wall is built in the same brick-by-brick sequence every night,” says Fisher. “This allows the brick-building and the video projection to be synchronized.” The bricks are fluted, fireproofed cardboard, the same as in 1980. The technical design for the current wall-building machinery was done by Jeremy Lloyd from Stufish and Tyler Kicera at Tait Towers.
Stay tuned for additional coverage of the projection and lighting of Roger Waters’ The Wall tour.