Marc Brenner

White Light Flies into the West End with The Seagull

Following on from the return of the recent critically-acclaimed production of Cyrano de Bergerac, TheJamie Lloyd Companyis now back in London’s West End with The Seagull; a brand new adaptation of Chekhov’s iconic tale of love and loneliness. This latest production is written by Anya Reiss and stars Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke making her highly-anticipated West End debut. It also features a lighting design by Jackie Shemesh who approached White Light (WL) to supply his lighting rig. 






The Seagull is one of the most iconic plays of all time and considered to be the first of Chekhov’s four major pieces. It has been performed countless times all across the globe, with the latest revival being this current production at the Harold Pinter Theatre. The legacy of the play and what had come before was something Jackie was fully aware of – but not something that phased him. He explains: “As with any other show you work on, you need to approach it with a fresh pair of eyes in order to begin your design. Whilst The Seagull has been performed numerous times, in this particular production, the bold design of Soutra Gilmour offers the concept of a chipboard box as the main set which is incredibly striking. As such, I then used this as inspiration and followed to offer an equally bold concept (I hope!)”. 






The journey of getting this version of The Seagull to the stage has been filled with numerous obstacles; something to be expected given it was supposed to open in March 2020. Jackie explains: “We were initially meant to run at The Playhouse back in early 2020 but global events put an abrupt stop to that. As such, the show actually had two rounds of production – pre and post-pandemic. The most important one though was post and when we all gathered in the room once more, Jamie Lloyd, the director, had a clear vision: which was to keep every element of the production as distilled as possible without losing the integrity of its dramatic tools. This approach seems to be quite common for many West End productions at the moment and, for this show, it wasn’t an easy task to achieve; but it’s something I believe we managed to do”.  











Knowing the precise look and feel he wanted from his design, Jackie approached the Hire Team at WL. He explains: “The main feature of my design was the Arri Sky panels. The stage design was simply a closed box which meant very few options for rigging sidelights or backlights and limited positions from front-of-house. As such, I chose to hang the Sky panels on the ceiling to gain the main wash of the room. It was quite crucial for us to have the feeling that the room is being lit from within to complete the feeling of the stage design.     






He continues: “The Sky panels were used only by calling Kelvin temperature. There were no colours involved in this production at all, which is something you don’t often see in the West End! Instead, we used variations of very gently warmed washes to finely cold/greys tones as this is what the production required. Our programmer Miguel Figueiredo had to fine tune the temperatures of the rig again and again. At some point, we took the freedom to break it all into a strong bright flash that was well served dramaturgically. We also didn’t want to have any visible shadows on the walls or on the floor nor did we want any lights to be visible from FOH in front of the set frame. This meant that we could only hang lower Auras under the boxes – a challenge when your main feature is top light… ”.  






The Seagull has now opened to critical acclaim and will run until 10th September 2022. 




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