Solving the Lighting Challenges for The Lucky Ones

by Stage Directions

Needing a very specific, yet flexible, lighting solution for his theatrical lighting design for Die Gluecklichen (The Lucky Ones), LD Wolfgang Eibert turned to the ARRI S30-C SkyPanel. This LED softlight—known as a light for film and TV productions, with an adjustable color temperature control, but also a full-range of colors—has been getting more and more use in theater applications.

Staged in Munich’s Kammerspiele theater, The Lucky Ones, presented by the theater collective ausbau.sechs, was a performance installation piece based on the novel of the same name. About a young urban family in fear of social demise when their source of income is threatened, this unique theater experience had no actors involved. Instead, 16 audience members are led in pairs by headphone through a set consisting of eight interconnected, rooms.

The rooms are separated by 10-foot-high hanging walls made of frosted PVC diffusion sheets. “We knew from the outset what light ambiance we wanted in each of the rooms,” explains Eibert. “At the start of the play, the audience should feel the warmth and sense of security of their own four walls. Then, with each new chapter and room, the atmosphere grows colder and harsher, until it culminates in piercing despair.”

One of the challenges was that the rear of the stage lies beneath a ceiling beam. That reduced the maximum height for hanging lights to 16-feet, making softlights one of the only options for lighting the interior. “Normally, a theater would realize the color mix in such a case with four spotlights,” explains Eibert. “But that would have cast colored and ever-changing shadows on the white floor and the tables.” The only solution he could think of was to use an LED spot with color mixing, and so he set out to find a compact, yet powerful spotlight to do the job, that ensured a uniformly soft illumination with a broad beam angle with as little shadowing as possible. He chose ARRI’s SkyPanel S30-C. “The perfect solution,” according to Eibert. “The output and quality in the various shades of white, and also in the rest of the color spectrum, made them the ideal solution.”

In the end, the SkyPanels became a key component of the lighting concept, supported by conventional lightbulbs and dimmable RGBW fluorescent tubes. Whether creating a warm, “family at the dining table” atmosphere or a grotesquely surreal shadow-free space, there was no doubt in Eibert’s mind that “the SkyPanels made a major contribution to the success of The Lucky Ones” and he will have no qualms whatsoever about “using them again in future theater projects.”