Guest Blog by Lighting Designer Andrew Schmedake

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Kinetic was happy to provide lighting and rigging equipment for After Hour’s Theatre Company’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”Following is Lighting Designer Andrew Schmedake‘s experience lighting this production.

After Hour’s Theatre Company’s “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” fuses a traditional dramatic narrative with an interactive and immersive experience. From the moment the audience checks in, we work to pluck them out of the Burbank warehouse that they’ve just walked up to and drop them into our version of a 1960s Oregon mental asylum that they can explore and inhabit with the characters from the play. On top of that immersive experience, we’re also putting on a two-act drama that slides between realism and some intricate dream-sequences of inner monologue. The whole event occurs in what was originally an empty warehouse that we converted into a fully-functional theater with dimmers and intelligent lighting equipment provided by Kinetic Lighting.

Gear List:

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Our creative team, lead by director Jonathan Muñoz-Proulx, was particularly taken by the mechanical metaphors that those inner monologues evoke. Sound Designer Austin Quan generated some amazing clanking, whirring sounds that Projection Designer Sheiva Khalily supports with projected gear content for those beats. Victoria Tam’s Scenic Design establishes the real physical environment of the asylum with some gorgeous scenic distressing and attention to detail on the multitude of rooms that the patrons can explore. The lighting strove to bridge those two environments and was born out of the idea that if our cast and our patrons are caged away in this desiccated mechanical asylum, why aren’t the lights as well?

We fabricated 150 hanging sockets with cages that we lamped with squirrel-cage filament bulbs to create the ambient lighting for the space. They bridge the “acting” and “audience” areas so that patrons are still present members of the asylum even when the on-rails narrative of the play is taking place. They’re zone-controlled by a 48-dimmer rack from Kinetic Lighting and help to pull focus to specific regions as well as a variety of chase and flicker effects that take us into and out of reality in conjunction with Austin’s sound. These are complemented by eight birdcage chandeliers and a bulb waterfall centerpiece that provide a central focus to the room. Altogether, these systems put an implied ceiling on our space so the audience isn’t looking up at a bunch of modern fluorescent fixtures that live in the venue.

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Also in that ceiling space are four Martin Mac Quantum Profiles that do the heavy lifting of key and effect lighting over the course of the narrative. They’re mounted on four truss towers skinned by Victoria to look like columns and disappear into the cloud of bulbs above the audience. A handful of Martin Rush PARs provide window washes and entry lights for some other larger-than-life moments in the narrative. Kinetic Lighting provided or helped us source out all of the intelligent lighting and rigging equipment for this production. Laura Steinroeder was instrumental in helping our company to navigate the leap from producing in a typical theatrical space into one that we found and transformed ourselves.

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“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is produced by After Hours Theatre Company. It runs through Sunday, July 1.
You can find more information at https://www.cuckoosnestla.com/

Photo Credit: KJ Knies and Victoria Tam.