Meet Lighting Designer Brandon Jensen
Even though Halloween is my least favorite holiday, I felt I had to celebrate in some way to avoid becoming a total scrooge. Luckily, the Lawrence Art Center let me join in on their festivities with Ric Averill’s adaptation of the original Mary Shelley horror story, Frankenstein. I was excited to jump at the opportunity work at the LAC – and with director, Elizabeth Sullivan – again. Not without it’s hurdles, the Art Center’s production of Frankenstein was one creature I had a blast helping sew together.
Nearly fresh-off-the-boat from undergrad, I drew inspiration from an author frequently cited in design courses, Robert Edmund Jones, remembering his opinion on technical aspects of the theater and its use of enhancing “the natural powers of the actor.” The primary goal was to create an environment in which the players could… well, play. No part of the stage is untouched by the actors, and the lighting should be no different. And just like an actors’ emotional range, the lighting varies. In some scenes, there are shadows for actors to creep in and come out from; in others, bright colors wash the stage, baring all, showing no place to hide. Mr. Averill takes us different places within the story, from inside Victor Frankenstein’s laboratory to inside Victor Frankenstein’s mind, giving the actors and the audience a plethora of scenes to take in. And these various scenes need the appropriate support for telling the story. Working with scenic designer Tammy Keiser to create final details for the set was an added bonus, and essential for making the play burst with electricity. Following her lead, we set out to make our Frankenstein’s laboratory a steam-punk nightmare, with strange 21st century equipment mixed up in a turn-of-the-century world.
Creepy shadows, eerie colors, and bolts of lighting are only small parts that help keep this creature together. The audience gets the most out of a story when everything’s in sync: the costumes, the music, the lights, the set, the actors. And Tammy, Elizabeth, Ric, UltaVivid, myself, and of course, the fabulous actors, have all come together to tell you this horrific tale: and we hope you enjoy it.
-Brandon Jensen, Lighting Designer