Creatives Commentary: Lighting Designer Guy Hoare on West Side Story

Mon 8 Jun 2020

Lighting Designer for the Made at Curve production of West Side Story, Guy Hoare, remembers an evening spent creating the show’s stars and stripes lighting.

This image formed the backdrop to the iconic Dance at the Gym in West Side Story. For fairly obvious reasons the stars and stripes was a recurring motif throughout the show – from the very opening image when we see a tatty, torn flag hanging high above the cast.

Creating the flag with light was something I had done nearly 15 years previously for a production of Assassins in Sheffield and I was apprehensive about repeating it – not least because it requires quite specific equipment and a lot of time to perfect. Time in particular is rarely on our side, especially on a Christmas show, but we carved out a late-night session in the schedule exclusively to focus the flag. The electrics team, led by Jonny Laidlow, started at 10pm after all other departments had broken for the day and we finally finished around 1am. It only requires 26 lights, but each one needs very precise focussing up a ladder, nearly 10 metres above the stage. Most require a second visit to finesse. This image was taken just before we left for the night and was the first time we got to see all the lights on together. The following day the orchestra would be setting up beneath these lights and getting back to them after that was going to be almost impossible.