Producer: University of Calgary
Director: Dean Combitsis
Set/Props Designer: Kristin Jones
Costume Designer: Anna Fitzgerald
Festival Plot Designer: Graham Frampton
Photographer: Tim Nguyen
Reeve theatre, Calgary AB
With this play, the Director was interested in exploring Woyzeck’s disorientation. Inspired by facial recognition disorders, Woyzeck becomes more paranoid and more isolated as the play progresses. With lights I chose to emphasize the isolation element, while with sound I emphasized the disorientation.
The Reeve theatre provided unique opportunities in terms of sound because the room is hexagonal, with a speaker in each corner, and because there is space under the floor. The speaker placement allowed my design to use surround sound effects, particularly in the penultimate scene, in which Woyzeck interacts with other characters, but their voices never seem to come from the same place twice. The space under the floor allowed for some interesting live effects, for example at one point in the play Woyzeck pounds the ground in frustration, and that sound was picked up by a microphone under the floor and amplified to put emphasis on that moment. Other sound I used include shepherd tones, which give the impression that the pitch is constantly rising, a low bass rumble, and the sound of tinnitus, like a mosquito that you can never quite slap. All of these sound were created with the purpose of putting the audience on edge during key moments, and they built on each other as the play reached its climax.
For the lighting, I took inspiration from a couple of lines in the play where Woyzeck mentions feeling hot, while those around him feel no different. From this, I got the idea of following Woyzeck with a followspot that gets progressively warmer as the play progresses, while the surroundings get colder around him. This also allowed me to light only Woyzeck from the front, playing into the director’s idea of facial recognition disorders, and further isolating Woyzeck from his surroundings. I also made heavy use of shins in the later scenes, adding to the sense that all was not right, and throwing shadows high on the wall behind. I also tried placing lights at head height and shuttering off the face to add even more to the facelessness of the ensemble, though this was not as successful. The gel that I chose combined with the width that the lights had to cover meant that they just didn’t have the punch for the effect to read as well as I would have liked.