Perception---you have that power.

There is purpose in design. There is information in a setting. There is truth in your environment. Fake or real, it's there.

All images are copyrighted by Heidi Hoffer unless otherwise indicated. Your courtesy in using my photographs must include crediting me as the photographer. You must tell me when and where you've used them and send the link to me showing your use of them.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Piper Band Scottie

The Pretoria Boys Gathering was held at Pretoria Boys High School in Pretoria, Gauteng on Saturday, 11 June 2011. I fell into this event whilst walking about with my friends Richard and Susan. We heard the drums and the pipers of course, and walked into the boy's school to see a huge gathering and competition happening. What fun; great sound, sharp and colorful uniforms, and wonderful vendors of everything under the sun. The pipers were fantastic.

 Not all entertainment is dramatic theatre, but it is full of characters and drama!

The clans were serious about their uniforms to the point that tucked into the stocking of the right leg is a sgian dubh knife.
And the bands performed well, with several judges scrutinizing their every drumstick twirl and bag pipe note. Here are a two of the judges:

 The African Sky Pipe Band below is taking the field of competition.
 And since it was also a gathering, a rasher of characters abounded.

The competitors checked each other out...
whilst a master (Transvaal Scottish) looks on...

 Wonderful afternoon, ne? If anyone knows how to identify the bands according to their plaids, I would love to know that as I have pics of many bands and the drum heads are not always facing to where I can read the names, drop me a comment. Thanks!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


A brief visit to SPIOENKOP NATURE RESERVE allowed me to get close to the animals such as these giraffes.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Jesus Christ Superstar in Johannesburg, South Africa

In this rehearsal photo of Jesus Christ Superstar (Sets by Keith Anderson, Lighting by Denis Hutchinson, Photos by Heidi Hoffer) you can see the actor on the acrylic cross in the ascension scene. The cross unit was brought up from the Artscape Theatre in Cape Town.  It was run by hydraulics and they brought in a master engineer stagehand to initiate the setup and supervise its use in the rehearsals. At one moment in the show it was a flat cross shaped platform about 2 meters up in the air on top of which Caesar sings.
Lighting Designer Denis Hutchinson, who took me on the University of Johannesburg tour with his theatre consulting group, brought me onboard for observing his work on Jesus Christ Superstar. Denis, or Hutch as he likes to be called sometimes, had seen JCS through several incarnations and an Asian tour. His Grand MA programmer is none other than Glenn Duncan, the programmer for Winnie the Opera at the State Theatre.

Jesus Christ Superstar Lighting Designer Denis Hutchinson and Grand MA Programmer Glenn Duncan are illuminated by the bright lights of the ascension scene.

Part of the alure of this design is that it is primarily a moving light rig. There are very few conventional instruments in the plan. I was curious how Denis would get the dramatic moments to be different from the rock and roll moments. His biggest challenge was to create a lighting design that the original lighting designer did not disagree with yet was on a small enough rig for touring and fitting into arenas and smaller venues. Denis' design in this Montecasino Johannesburg incarnation is largely his own, with the cues and the looks the way HE wanted them. I believe the introduction of moving lights to this vintage musical does change and make the look more fluid and crisp.

In this rehearsal photo of Jesus Christ Superstar (Sets by Keith Anderson, Lighting by Denis Hutchinson, Photos by Heidi Hoffer) you can see the highly balanced geometry of the moving lights as their beams are revealed by the haze in the air.
Glenn likes to organize a palette of movers (moving lights - in this case ALL Vari-*Lites) in such a way that he can call up a variety of groups and operate them in absolutely any manner a designer could wish for. Glenn stated that he wished this palette could be arranged alphabetically after the icons are made. I believe that would make his fingers flash even faster. He and Denis managed to move the whole design off a Hog II onto the Grand MA. Denis was able to call for individual instruments or specific systems and Glenn would have them up and moving before Denis had finished his sentence. Amazing.

In this rehearsal photo of Jesus Christ Superstar (Sets by Keith Anderson, Lighting by Denis Hutchinson, Photos by Heidi Hoffer) you can see that in addition to the moving lights, specific characters were picked out of the crowd my two followspots, in this case, two human operators up from Cape Town were running the followspots: two new Juliet folowspots that were so bright and beautiful  Denis considered taking them down a peg with gel.
The set was painted completely photo grey. The set had absolutely no colour in it, and the environment's colour came only from the lighting. Quite a bold choice and very excellent decision because the cripsness and clarity of each environment was paramount.

In this rehearsal photo of Jesus Christ Superstar (Sets by Keith Anderson, Lighting by Denis Hutchinson, Photos by Heidi Hoffer) you can see the back wall of the set - the stonework - is completely grey. It's colours come from the lighting. This is the scene where Caesar is trying to talk to J.C.
In this rehearsal photo of Jesus Christ Superstar (Sets by Keith Anderson, Lighting by Denis Hutchinson, Photos by Heidi Hoffer) you can see the hazers are working well to create long beams of light over the audience's heads in this ascencion scene.
The MontecasinoTeatro is the theatre that was built specifically to house The Lion King. It has limited wing space and is very cramped backstage. A black theatre drape upstage hid the dressing rooms and also hid the Carbon Dioxide fog machine with its huge tank. The design team were especially happy with the low lying fog they could get with the machine. In addition to that, they had hazers in the air to facilitate the look of the ascension. The beams of light reached out into the audience.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Learned Ladies South African Style

In reality, doing a play by Moliere in any language is a _mouthwrappedaroundallofthewords_challenge.

For the University of Pretoria, I decided to keep things simple yet Baroquely fluffy by streamlining the designs to dancewear, camping clothes, pantaloons, tights and jeans with jackets and overskirts of any period flavour. Imagine, if you will, Cirque du Soleil meets Seattle Goth and you've got an idea of our inspiration. Not everything was 50/50 but the character's stock personalities (archetypical stock characters for the 18th century) came out well.

Alise is the doddering sister of Chrysalus....we did change the gender on this one.
And Belise is the romantically confused sister of Chrysalus.