Mark Rothko, one of the most influential postwar American artists, was famous for using colors and forms to interpret his artistic philosophy. He paid particular attention to the lighting where his paintings were exhibited. That’s why Singapore’s Blank Space Theatre focused on the lighting design on Red, an award-winning docudrama by John Logan, which covers Rothko’s work in the late 1950s. ETC LED luminaires, controlled by an ETC Ion® console, helped lighting designer James Tan achieve that lighting goal during a production at the Esplanade Theatre Studio.
Red takes place in spring 1958, in Rothko’s New York studio. In order to create natural-looking light shining through the window into the compact space, Tan used seven ETC Source Four® LED Lustr+ luminaires.
“I decided to use LED fixtures that would be intense enough and could also change color easily, as the play spanned two years with different seasons and day and night,” says Tan.
On the other side of the stage, Tan placed a Source Four LED Series 2 Lustr® fixture with an attached Source Four LED CYC adapter on a head-high boom to illuminate the back of the entrance. “What we managed to achieve was a perfectly clean source of light that had enough punch,” explains Tan. “The CYC light backlit the frosted windows, and created the silhouette of a person entering or exiting through the door.”
The only other character in the play was Ken, Rothko’s young assistant. The highlight of the play is a scene where both characters work on a canvas together, choreographed to lighting and sound. Tan’s design for this dramatic scene included two 21-inch ETC Selador® Classic™ Vivid-R LED luminaires that provided brightness and saturated color to enhance the canvas.
“The intensity, punch and color-mixing abilities of the Vivid-R fixtures are very impressive and they helped make the canvas pop. The saturated colors added a touch of elegance to the look of that scene,” explains Tan.
The show was run on an ETC Ion console with the latest software, v2.2. “Ion was easy to program and it worked well for the play,” summarizes Tan. “The lighting programmer was able to program smoothly, despite a very short technical prep time.”