Lighting Henry V

In December I lit my last ever show in the new school theatre (provided they don't ask me back, of course). It was a new version of Henry V with a running time of only 1 hour 40 minutes straight through.

Plot

I learnt VectorWorks, on the recommendation of those at the National Theatre, and as a result my plot is much prettier (and easier to read and update). You can view the final plot here.

Photos

By Fred Hill:

The Prologue

The first time we see Henry

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Thoughts

This show was the first time I'd been given completely free reign to write my own cue list, which was very exciting for me. I attended a run through about 5 weeks before show up and filmed it so I could go through again and makes notes regarding blocking and the emotional sense of each scene.

I also tried out some lighting concepts and positioning early on before I did my plot, which was a good move as it meant that I could find out early on if something wasn't going to work. I had to reposition some of my set lighting and swapped a few gels having seen how they worked in the space.

When going through the runthrough I started with putting in general cover (scroller fresnels and Lustr face light). The Lustr facelight, as much as I would have liked to scoot round to be sidelight to keep it off the set, had to be more front-on to avoid hitting the audience in the face on the sides of the thrust. I had a fairly standard set of 1K fresnels with scrollers as downlight, as well as a pair of 2K fresnels next to each other doing a strong backlight wash (one element that I adapted from the West End production in 2013).

I had a fairly large set lighting system: a 75º Pacific, 50º S4, and a 1K fresnel, all in two colours, for each side of the set (total of 12), along with another pair of S4s to fill in the bridge of the "H" on the front of the set.

Since so much of the play is set outdoors, I opted for a "sunlight" source and "moonlight" source, each made up of 4 Par 64s. The sunlight was positioned to shine over the top of the battlements in L764 (seen in picture 23 and 24), and the moonlight was round to the side on a box boom in L197. I also had a pair of leaf breakup downlights for the outside forrest scenes, some leaf breakup facelight, and some more structured foliage/tree gobos that I used on the set in the forrest night scenes (photo 27).

Finally, I also put a large fogger, a fan, and a ridiculous number of lights behind the archway. I wanted a gold set, analogous to fire during the battle scenes, for which I chose Par 64s for a very dense beam, and a more serene blue for the ship travel scenes, which were 650W fresnels for a more even field.

BTS Photos

Building the set:

Building the set

Coda backlights, that shine through the cracks in the set:

Coda backlights

The sunlight system, peeking over the set:

Sunlight

The circle bar fully loaded:

Circle bar

The arch backlight bar:

Backlight bar

A view behind the set:

Back view

Improved from previous shows:

  • Better and more varied colour palette than City of Angels
  • Less spill into the audience than Hiroshima
  • Use of movers to pick up actors allowing me to reduce the general cover
  • Better use of texture and gobos than Hiroshima (Preludes with dark gels and gobos are essentially useless)
  • Improved balancing of 1Ks and 2Ks
  • Better cueing than Hiroshima and City of Angels, including cues for mood changes

Next show: a devised piece named Grey Matter. There will be pixel mapping.

Credits

Director: Alex Kerr
Set & Costume Designer: Katy Mills
Lighting Designer: Alex Forey
Sound Designer: Amos Jackson

Lighting Programmer & Operator: Ben Aldous
Followspot Operators: Manan Pant & Charlie de Waal