HOW TO USE A WASHING MACHINE

How to Use a Washing Machine toured the UK in July/August 2019, and so the majority of the design was centred around four LED Pars which toured with the show to ensure the design was as easily as possible translated between venues. The rig plan and photographs are from the very first venue. The majority of the musical is set inside a family home, and the pacing of the design centered largely around a vibrant colour palette during musical numbers, transforming the narrative into the characters' internal mindsets, and returning to a standard interior base state in between songs. This was particularly effective for numbers such as 'Wayne Sleep', in which lead male James laments his various career paths and aspirations of being a ballerina which were dashed upon his entry to the banking world; the colour of the backlight gradually becomes more and more surreal with each childhood dream (a deep blue with only a small amount of facelight fill created a space-like impression for his 'astronaut phase' perfectly) until eventually James was washed by bright, lurid pink whilst dancing in a tutu. As Cass enters catching James off guard, a snap back to the base state precisely reflects James' own snap out of his daydream, and jarringly returns the audience to the present from James' imagination. In a later number, 'Calculator Cliche', James repeats the astronaut choreography that was bathed in dark blue during Wayne Sleep; this time, though, James cannot muster the same enthusiasm no matter how hard he tries - his 'stuffy' banker lifestyle is still holding him back. To reflect this, the lights begin to fade into the dark blue that appeared in Wayne Sleep, but never quite get there - they remain weaker and less powerful than before, diluted in the same way as James' dream itself is. The most technically demanding section, though, was the very beginning, which depicts Cass and James on stage at the same time yet in two separate locations, both making their own journeys back home. We split the stage down the centre using  profiles from the front to allow a sharp, vertical line of separation with the profile blades. Cass was lit in LEE764, and James in LEE202, providing a simple but highly effective contrast. When the action focusses on James in his car at centre stage, the director was keen to have Cass in front of him holding practical torches acting as headlights - a dim blue backlight and small amount of fill allowed these torches to pierce through the darkness, creating a breathtaking moment. And on top of all this, as Cass is singing about the difficulties of using a washing machine, I even got to make use of a bubble machine rigged above her head!

 

Production by SLAM Theatre

 

Libretto - Georgie Botham

Score - Joe Davies

Director - Georgie Botham

Musical Director - Joe Davies

Set and Costume Design - Christina Hill

 

Photographs by Esme Sanders

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