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Designing the Dark Ride

Designing the Dark Ride

Demeter’s Dark Ride – An Attraction is no ordinary theatre show – in fact it’s not even a show, it’s a “ride”. Instead of sitting down to be shown something, those who choose to ride the dark ride will embark on a journey of mythic and historic proportions through the BATS Theatre building, magically transformed by the Pandemonic Attractions company.

Designing the Dark Ride, therefore, requires no ordinary theatre designer. Leading the design process is Lisa Maule, winner of two Chapman Tripp Awards and designer of many productions at Circa and Downstage. Maule has overall responsibility for the design and is working with a strong team that includes Janet Dunn (costumes and set), Carlos Wedde (props and set), Hannah Davies (audiovisual), Annie Ferris (set design assistant) and Stuart Shepherd (installation).

“The Ride is made up of nine separate attractions in different locations, each requiring a different concept,” says Maule. “My job is to ensure that each attraction is a workable part of the whole. Some elements are largely designed by one or two members of the design team, others are more collaborative, and the actors also have input.”

For example, a diorama which featured in last year’s pilot production will be recreated by Wedde, with a video skyscape by Davies. In two other attractions, Dunn’s costumes are the significant design element.

“Sound is an important component within the design,” says Maule. “In some attractions the sound is pre-recorded, but in others it is created live within the attraction, and is a visible element.” Musician Jeff Henderson is creating an original score for the Ride.

Maule’s plans and drawings have evolved over the last few months as the production has taken shape and it has become clearer what will be where within the building. Some of the spaces are very small and closed in while other spaces are huge and open.

“The spaces aren’t always what they seem to be,” says Maule, mysteriously, “and they may change when you’re not looking.”

Janet Dunn, another Chapman Tripp Award winner, is creating costumes for a range of characters and fabric elements for the set. Says Dunn, “It’s a delight to be working on this production – it’s incredibly visually rich and there are enormous creative challenges and opportunities for us.”

Puppeteer Carlos Wedde will be flexing his strings in parts of the Ride: “I don’t want to give away too much at the moment,” he says, “other than to say that you should expect the unexpected.”

Lisa Maule: Recipient of two Chapman Tripp Lighting Design Awards, Lisa has been designing for theatre for 15 years. Recent projects include lighting design for “Wednesday to Come” (Downstage), set and lighting for “Midsummer Night's Dream” (Circa) and Jan Bolwell’s show “Here's Hilda”. She has a BDes in Interior Design, BA in Art History from VUW and this year has had guest teaching roles at VUW, Massey, Weltech and Toi Whakaari.

Janet Dunn: Award-winning costume designer Janet Dunn interlocks and overlaps her work in the performing arts with her fashion label DUNN. Her work embraces a sense of social justice, green issues, history, and the empowerment of people through clothing. She has created theatre costumes in Wellington and London since the 1980s , and for screen since 1995. Recent work includes a Chapman Tripp Award for “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” (Downstage); "In Flame" and "Humble Boy" (Circa) and she is collaborating with Barbarian Productions.

Carlos Wedde: Carlos has a Bachelor of Visual Arts (ASA, Auckland) and studied Bunraku puppetry with the National Theatre of Japan. He has created man-eating plants for “The Little Shop of Horrors” (Downstage); costumes and props for “The Lord of the Rings”; puppets for “Big River” (Downstage) and “Across the Ocean Waves” (Story Inc! and Otago Museum); a set and animations at the Court Theatre; and an animated music video for Fatcat and Fishface.

Hannah Davies: Following on from her Bachelor of Design [interior design] Hannah is completing a Master of Design and was selected to attend the Antwerp Performance Design Workshops in Belgium in January 2005. Her recent theatre work includes set and costume design for “When Sun and Moon Collide” (Circa).

Stuart Shepherd: Stuart employs strategies from his background in commercial model-making and special effects in developing interactive and kinetic sculptural installation artwork. He enjoys the low-tech end of the special effects spectrum: the home-made, back-yard recycled rigs that create an illusion while failing to completely hide the operating mechanism. His work has been shown around the country, most recently at the Adam Art Gallery as part of the Antarctica exhibition. He is a lecturer at the College of Creative Arts, Department of Art and Design Studies.

Annie Ferris: Annie has degrees in art history and interior design, and her interests lie in public space and events, ritual and performance. She has created the “Latin Beat” floats for this year’s Cuba St Carnival, worked on costumes for Circa productions and designed the set for the opera “Bluebeard’s Castle” at Massey’s Conservatorium of Music.

Demeter's Dark Ride – An Attraction

conceived and directed by Madeline McNamara

created by Pandemonic Attractions

BATS Theatre

21 October – 5 November 2005

Bookings: 802 4175

Rides at 7pm, 8pm, 9pm + 10pm show on weekends. No show Monday.

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