Technique Workshop Installation at Contact, Manchester

This video comes from an installation created at Contact (a theatre in Manchester) as part of Technique, their course in technical theatre. The installation was designed as a show piece of theatre lighting, sound and scenic design, created jointly by the attendees with help from Contact’s technicians. The set followed a narrative based on the Science Fiction novel Vurt by Jeff Noon, which describes a chase scene between teenagers in rival gangs through a fictional area of future Manchester called Bottletown. I don’t know where the author intended it to be, but in my head, it sounds like a really run down version of Castlefield, which is why the booms (the scaffolding-esque sections) covered in plastic to resemble flats.

Vurt is mostly about drugs, and the set needed to give that impression – with disorientating lights and reflections. We had a lot of fun with the plastic sheeting and the glow from the various bottles hanging up or strewn around the set. I particularly liked having the plastic on the floor so that people could feel as if they were walking across broken glass. We actually discussed having microphones under the plastic so that the crunching of footsteps could be amplified back, perhaps with reverb or distortion added, but we didn’t have time to set it up (The whole installation was constructed in about an hour and a half.)

It was designed for people to walk through – through the path of bottles at the entrance, up onto the platform and off again. The different areas corresponded with three different scene designs: ‘Beauty in Ugliness’, ‘Crime and Decay’ and ‘Carnage.’ You can hear the changes fairly clearly in the music.

This happened last November, and there has been another Technique course since then that I also attended, which I’ll hopefully be posting about soon!


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