Alexander Ridgers is a lighting designer based in Chicago hailing from Edinburgh, Scotland. Alexander worked as Assoc Lighting Designer w/ Sell A Door Theatre Company before moving to Chicago to study an MFA in Theatre Design at Northwestern University. Other UK credits include Royal Opera House 2, British Youth Opera, National Youth Theatre of GB, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, and many Edinburgh Fringe Festival productions. Since being based in the US, Alexander has designed with Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts in Indiana; American Theatre Company; Theatre Wit; Griffin Theatre Company; Northwestern University and assisted with Marcus Doshi Design. Alexander the 2016 winner of the Best Student Exhibit at the Michael Merritt Awards and has presented his work at the USITT Young Designers Forum 2016, and New York Design Portfolio Review. www.alexanderridgers.com
In this 4-part feature, PerformInk continues its INSIDE series and takes you behind the scenes of The New Colony’s production of PSYCHONAUT LIBRARIANS through blog posts written by the people behind the scenes. To read past articles click here.
By Alexander Ridgers
During an initial read of PSYCHONAUT LIBRARIANS, my mind was racing – visualizing, imagining and believing every word. Through all this excitement and thrill, all I could think were exciting questions and explorations to start discussing with everyone – ‘what is this magic?’; ‘where are we?’ and of course ‘how can the light transform, evolve and shape this magnificent story?’. Once I had completed the read, all I could feel was a large rush of excitement and the need to share ideas to begin developing what was going to be the building blocks of the lighting design.
This show is a big one, and I knew that the light must live up to that however with that and for clarity, the light is rather simple in its essential form – two worlds – reality and abstraction. The light must root us in a ‘reality’ where we as the audience understand what the grounding place for the play looks and feels like and then it must flip and become a world filled with abstraction and magic – something we don’t know – the ‘anyverse.’
The light within the daily life of the Chicago Public Library is fluorescent – sterile, clean and something we can all easily relate to and see in our daily lives within public places. Within this space and ‘after hours’ there is a warmth that comes from the use of desk lamps. This idea of light gives us a change in the quality of light and gives the sense of an internal, personal relationship of Jane and Hester within this journey.
In complete contrast – the anyverse is a world bursting with saturate color, movement and should feel a complete contrast to the ‘reality’ of the library. Using color, shadows, and unnatural angles will create a world where anything can happen, and the light can become part of the character of the world itself completely changing the feeling of the space and bringing the mystery, magic and anyverse to us.
As the ideas develop in the theater, it is important to me that the light must feel musical. It must bind with the poetry of the play, the magic of the worlds and it must create a world where we, as an audience, can believe the magic – the magic of this plays words, the story, and the space where it lives within.