Stephen Dodd studied at the Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College, Dublin.
He has recently designed lighting for Dead Centre, ANU Productions, The Performance Corporation, The Company, Druid, Desperate Optimists, Louise White, and Emma Martin Dance.
- Edinburgh Fringe First 2014 for "Lippy" (Dead Centre)
- Best Production, Irish Times Theatre Awards 2013 for "Lippy" (Dead Centre)
- Best Overall Design and Best Production, Dublin Fringe Festival 2013 for "Lippy" (Dead Centre)
- Best Overall Design and Best Production, Dublin Fringe Festival 2012 for "Dogs" (Emma Martin Dance)
The lighting design for riverrun was borne out of collaboration between the company guided by co-director and performer Olwen Fouéré. Early on in the process we arrived at the idea that the more we added, the less the audience would see and experience, and so we worked towards a design aesthetic that was focused on the performer and the space that she occupied.
The work itself, an adaption of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake was a subject that I, or most of our creative team had never worked with before. A notoriously difficult text; there would be infinite ways to interpret this work to shape the design of the production. We found though, the best approach was not to interpret it at all, but to let ourselves flow freely throughout the creative process and to hold on to the ideas that stuck as we discovered new things in the text and in Olwen’s interpretation of it.
The design concept we decided to work with was to treat the show as almost site specific; to have no set to speak of, but to treat each room we played in as an all encompassing performance space, with no or little distinction between the audience and Olwen. We wanted to work with the features of each room and not to hide anything through masking or other scenery. We used the term ‘honest space’ to best describe the environment we wanted to create for Olwen to perform in.
The aim of the lighting design was to allow the audience to fully engage, and stay engaged to Olwen at her microphone over the course of the show. We wanted them to feel they were sharing the same space as her and to follow her voice and movements as she embarks on her journey through the dense visually and aurally rich text. It was also the aim to make the work more accessible by punctuating it with shifts in lighting and sound, and allowing breathing room between sections of seemingly indecipherable monologue.
In the rehearsal room we used a map created by Alma Kelliher, our sound designer that created a visual structure to the text and gave us all a mutual creative direction. The show was split up into these sections of text and gaps in between that we called ‘kneeplays’ (a term coined by composer Philip Glass). This map helped us navigate through the text and to collaborate more easily by plotting out when and where the different design elements intersected, and when they went off in their own direction.
The success of the overall design for riverrun lies in it’s precision. The aesthetic is intentionally minimal, but every change in lighting and sound, no matter how large or small is essential in supporting Olwen and her audience as they both follow the same path in this unique and powerful performance.