Creating the Shadowy World of the Threepenny Opera

The Atlantic Theater Company’s production of Brecht’s Threepenny Opera took their audience deep into the shadows of Victorian London with the dark comedy’s equally shadowy cast of characters. In recreating this dark corner of the world, lighting designer Christopher Akerlind used Rosco Miro Cube 4C fixtures in innovative new ways.

Michael Park casting shadows, courtesy of Rosco Miro Cube 4C’s, in “The Threepenny Opera.”

Set Designer Robert Israel and Akerlind worked closely together to reproduce the dingy setting. Working with Israel’s scenic treatments Akerlind chose a less than conventional color pallet as an anchor for his design in this world. “The greenish part was as much about the color of the walls and how the cool grey (paint) was turned so” said Akerlind.

Laura Osnes (left) and Michael Park (right) in “The Threepenny Opera.”

With Victorian era lighting being uneven and centered around small individual sources Akerlind took the opportunity to integrate Miro Cube 4C fixtures as footlights into his design – a nod to the original vaudeville era production, but with a new purpose. Rather than the footlights softening the actors features in countering shadows from the overhead lighting, Akerlind reversed the intention and used them to cast stark shadows against the set - with the ability to shift colors and hues at will.

Michael Park (center) and the Miro Cubes create drama in “The Threepenny Opera.”

Christopher Akerlind chose the 4C’s because “the footlight shadows were a big part of the vocabulary of the show, and the cleanliness of the fixtures made them almost invisible to the audience. The vaudevillian style of our production allowed us that ubiquitous theatre idea while adding contemporary color changeability.” Stressing the importance of his color pallet Akerlind continued “the colors are so rich and they make good whites, particularly cool white. I’m still amazed by the color mixing; it’s clean without the problematic multi-shadows of RGB(W) that can be tricky with other fixtures."

F. Murray Abraham (left) and Michael Park (right) illuminated by Miro Cubes in “The Threepenny Opera.”

Make sure you visit the Miro Cube 4C web page to learn more about the features of this impressively bright, clean and compact LED fixture.

Photo Credit: Kevin Thomas Garcia

Matt DeLong July 16, 2015 Questions?

About Matt DeLong

Product Manager: Matt DeLong has been at Rosco for 15 years, having started his career at Rosco in Technical Support. Matt later moved into Sales covering the North-Atlantic region before the opportunity came for him to work in Product Management for Rosco's Floor, Fog and Motion Effects product lines. Matt has a background in Lighting Design, Special Effects, Pyrotechnics and Technical Theatre. Matt's stories will take you behind-the-scenes of theatrical productions and themed environments.