Smart People

Nashville Repertory Theatre
Johnson Theatre at Tennessee Performing Arts Center
February 2018
Regional Premiere Production

Direction by Jon Royal
Costume Design by Trish Clark
Lighting Design by Darren E. Levin
Projection Design by Colin Peterson
Scenic Design by Gary C. Hoff
Sound Design by Kyle Odum
Stage Management by Cecilia Lighthall

Smart People follows the lives of four intellectuals as they navigate discussions about race and its implication on society and people. The show is set during the campaign, election, and inauguration of President Barack Obama and illustrates the conversations that were present in the American conscious during that period of history. The research for the show stemmed from cubist architecture, interior design and artwork to mirror the cube and grey scale based scenic design. Additional inspiration came from political artwork that was created during the 2008 Presidential Election.

Smart People is comprised of 26 different scenes spanning 15+ different locations which provides a formidable challenge. Effectively transitioning as quickly as possible led me to a concept based on squares. All angles of the plot featured a wash of sharp focused fixtures spanning eleven areas across the stage. A system of 30 sharp focused unsaturated blue down light square specials became the backbone of the plot, creating intense isolation and allow the storytelling to flow from one place to another. Two systems of steep high side templates sharply focused allowed for additional cubist influence into the design.

Projections provided for a great collaboration opportunity. The projection design created the backdrop for the majority of the show and required careful angle selection to avoid bounce light and spill on the back wall. Warm and cool low high side systems allowed for dimensional lighting of the scenes, with minimal spill and bounce light. The combination of the low side angle with the aforementioned system of down light specials allowed for projections to shine while maintaining effective composition on the actors.