Eva & Tom
Brett Daffy – “Eva and Tom”
I had worked with Brett in the past, on the end of year dance season, Space Invasion, in 2006. On this production, we had collaborated in the creation of a work called ‘Paper’. Coming back to work with Brett was an exciting oportunity as we had collaborated very successfully on the past work. Brett’s work generally tells some sort of story, and this work was no exception. Named “Tom and Eva”, the work focused around the true story of the shipwreck of the Loch Ard, on Victoria’s Surf Coast on June 1, 1878. The story focuses around the heroic efforts of Tom Pearce, a deck hand and Eva Carmichael, an 18 year old passenger.
The work could be roughly divided into four parts, a dream like introduction, the long ship journey, the violent shipwreck and the conclusion. Images were projected onto the cyc throughout the performance, and this posed some problems for the lighting design. Because of the size of the images on the cyc, there was a great deal of ambient light onstage, so when any overhead light was added, the scene would become washed out. Booms were used as a substitute, as were follow spots from the downstage wings. The colour of the light played a big part in the performance to assist with the creation of ‘scenes’.
The opening sequence consisted of full company material, and some solos from the main characters. This section was important as it could set the scene for the whole work, and as such an old style feel was needed. I relied heavily on the use of Lee Filters 156 (chocolate) which created an old style colour of light, differentiated the dancers from the projections at the rear of the space, and complemented the costumes, made by Susan Handasyde. Low booms were used to create shadows across the space, and emphasize the dream like section.
The ship journey section needed some different elements, to make it standout from the opening, and as such, a cooler colour was used from the mid booms. In the photography taken by the dancers and Brett on their visit to the shipwreck site, a great deal of it was very blue in colour, due to the ocean and cloudless sky. This section also featured a large amount of material relating to the party that the ship’s passengers had the day before the ship sunk.
The shipwreck section needed to be confronting, and needed to bridge the second section and the fight for life by Tom and Eva. Because most of the scenes up to this point had used whole stage lighting, I chose to use darkness to emphasise the dancers screams. A series of four lights were rigged from the most downstage right bar in the space. Using these four lights, I was able to pan the light across the space, giving the audience incomplete flashes of dancers being shipwrecked. It also also designed to disorient the audience. This effect faded into a lighting scene halfway between the prologue, and the ship journey. One side of the stage was lit in chocolate, the other in light blue. As the dancers worked through the material, they would come and go into the different coloured light. This scene was maintained through a quartet of boys battling to save the ship, and Tom and Eva’s struggle to get to the beach. As they crawled their way along the stage, towards the audience, the state faded down, and an amber glow appeared near the audience, to symbolise the beach and safety.
When Tom and Eva landed on the beach on June 1 1878, Tom decided that it would be best if he set out to raise the alarm and come back for Eva. This section of material focused on Eva lost in an unknown land, with unknown dangers, and the possibility of being lost forever. This section featured a dull light in the centre of the space, just enough to see her movements, whilst the company searched for her along the wings with candles in lanterns. The use of the candles was an amazing effect, with shadows dancing throughout the space, and the audience having just enough light to see.
The second last scene of the work is a celebration of Tom and his bravery. This scene is by far the brightest and warmest lighting state of them all. It is closely followed by Tom and Eva posing for a photo, then embrasing, and backing away. I employed the use of two followspots, closely spotted, to only light the character’s faces as they backed away. The scene is probably the most important scene, visually, in the whole work. Tom and Eva never met each other again after they were resuced. Tom went on to be a Ship Captain, and Eva remarried in Ireland. This scene is the conclusion of the work, as the audience are left with two faces dissapearing into opposite wings.