19 April 2011 at 11.24am
In June, The Royal Ballet performs Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet at The 02 in Greenwich. This new space puts the ballet classic in a new light – bringing an element of the big screen to it, but still with a live orchestra and dancers, and with MacMillan’s acclaimed choreography untouched. Live-screen relays will show all the action from three 10-metre screens around the dome, and there will be interlinking film (scenes of dramatized footage), shot by the Ballet Boyz, with a narrated voice-over to guide the audience through the plot complexities - a step up from the opera glasses and programme notes of old. (More on this in a coming blog.)
In a new light
The ROH lighting department is tasked with re-imagining its designs for The O2 stage where the dancers will be thrust forward into a horseshoe-shaped auditorium (half of the full arena). The space is five-times as big as the Royal Opera House and the stage somewhat wider.
Says Nick Ware, senior lighting manager, “People don’t realise the sense of drama there. It’s quite a thrilling, theatrical place, with its steeply raked sides, that rise 30-metres high at quite an angle. There’s a surprising sense of proximity to the main stage. It’s not really like any other performance space I've seen.”
“The new lighting is very dramatic - bolder and stronger than for the main house. You will be able to see beams of light in the air, accentuated by smoke, it will be very atmospheric, full of character and drama."
On stage, there is no proscenium, no wings, no drop cloths to disguise scene changes, no scenery to be flown in from above. Instead much of the stage architecture and atmosphere will be achieved by John B. Read’s new lighting designs. In some way, the lights will create the stage architecture giving a sense of space and volume. Each colour has its own unique number and title. For Romeo and Juliet, colours include ‘Skelton Exotic Sangria’ – a sultry, deep purple, good for concert lighting and special effects, 'pale lavender', and all shades of blue: 'cool', 'sky', 'nile', 'sea', 'azure', 'primary' and 'peacock'. All the lights are all operated from one central automated panel, and the sequences are devised in a visualization suite using a computer 3D mock-up of the arena using the simulation software as developed by Disney in its Pixar animations.
Read more on Romeo and Juliet at The O2.