The Paper Nautilus
Commissioned by Theatre Cryptic

Director: Cathie Boyd
Designer / Film / Costumes: Pippa Nissen
Music: Gavin Bryars
Musical Director: Gary Walker
Lighting Designer: Nich Smith
Venue: Tramway, Glasgow and touring
First performed: November 2006

The set consisted of a pool of water at the front of the stage, a gauze screen right across the stage, and a walkway at the back, where a circular disc slowly crossed the width over the course of the performance. The band performed in the centre of the stage.

Video is used throughout on the front gauze and on the circle, which charts the progress of the singers through the water. Throughout the whole performance there is a sense of moving downwards: the imagery starts above water, and then progresses to the depths of the sea - where the sea creatures use bioluminescence to create light. This becomes a potent metaphor in Jackie Kay’s libretto.

The screens are used in different ways; the gauze depicts images within the water – filmed sequences of the singers underwater, the circle becomes a window out into the water at times, and at others the moon reflecting in the water, or like a though bubble.

We worked with LUX and filmed controlled bioluminescence in test tubes and various experiments that were used in the imagery of the production. At the end of the piece the process of bioluminescence was used as a dramatic display, as a powdered form of coral reacted with the water on stage.

Throughout the pool of water reflects the images, culminating in the singers walking through the water - casting rippled shadows throughout.