LD Justin Townsend Lights David Byrne’s Joan of Arc: Into the Fire

by Michael Eddy
David Byrne's Joan of Arc: Into the Fire at the Public Theater
David Byrne's Joan of Arc: Into the Fire at the Public Theater

LOS ANGELES, CA—Multi award-winning and Tony-nominated lighting designer Justin Townsend (The Humans, American Psycho, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) recently designed the world premiere of David Byrne’s Joan of Arc: Into the Fire, at New York’s Public Theate in their Newman Theater. The venue is an intimate 300-seat capacity yet it is long and deep to the back, so Townsend was looking for lighting that could both embrace the intimacy and reach to the furthest recesses of the space.

Further information from Elation Professional (elationlighting.com)

Townsend finds that he is using Elation Professional lights more and more since his first experience with them in 2013/2014 on the Broadway musical A Night with Janis Joplin. Currently, he is using Elation Satura Profile™ and Platinum Seven™ LED-based moving heads on Joan of Arc. “Elation has stepped up in the last few years and you see Elation gear used more and more in theatre,” Townsend states. “They have some fantastic products with great features and they make them very quiet as well. In an industry where more is more, the fact that you can afford twice as many lights with the Elation product is exciting. With more fixtures we get more color and more effects on our productions. It’s a win-win.”

Joan of Arc Into the FireThe Satura Profiles wash the stage and set from a downstage lane, and also do FOH specials and aid with followspot duties. “It has a crisp, clean light and includes framing shutters which I use quite a bit,” he says. “It gives a very sharp light and is also quiet which is important.” Townsend created a lane of light then used the fixture’s iris and four-blade shutter system to frame the look. The Satura Profiles are used throughout the show for everything from up-tempo to ballad numbers with Townsend using colors across the board from the fixture’s CMY and color wheel options. “I especially like the warm and medium colors,” he says, adding, “It also has a very fast response time and maintains its accuracy.”

Platinum Seven LED wash lights with their 7-color multi-chip LED engine work in backlight pairs, as well as from a 5 x 5 fixture array over the stage. “They are awesome with big fat color and have a really good response time,” Townsend said. “They look great in the space as architecture and in terms of brightness they are really good.” The set up included LED screens back and side stage with the designer running pixel-mapped effects across the Platinum Seven’s as well. Joan of Arc: Into the Fire tells the story of the legendary French military leader, who, after her execution at the age of nineteen, became a symbol of freedom the world over. It opened at the Newman Theater in February and runs through April 30th.

Joan of Arc Into the Fire at the Public