AMERICAN THEATRE | ‘Peerless’ Turns a Library Into a Theatre


Brenna Fitzgerald and Khloe Alice Lin in “peerless” by Jiehae Park at Company One. (Photo courtesy of Paul Fox)

Lighting designer Emmett H. Buhmann is “trying to make a lecture hall behave like a theatre” for Company One’s new production of Jiehae Park’s peerless, the tale of a pair of high school siblings determined to get into their dream university, staged April 27-May 27 in Rabb Lecture Hall at the Boston Public Library.

His big challenge, he says, are the walls. It’s “a very large, very tall, very beautiful ‘blonde’ room. This sort of bright environment is difficult to control when attempting to create isolations, so the design team has been hard at work determining the mechanics for this. Through the combination of scenic art, projection, and lighting, we have layered elements in an attempt to keep the audience’s eyes from trailing up and away from the action. The scenic walls behave as both lighting and projection surfaces, allowing us to frame the performance in a varying set of environments that, despite the limited ability to change scenically, will create new unique spaces.”

A model of JiYoung Han’s set for ‘peerless.’

Peerless needs those spaces: Buhmann calls it “a dark, very isolated, and often fractured work. One of the main goals of the lighting is to reinforce this sense of isolation and ‘brokenness.’ The world we create must be able to flow from reality to fantasy (I think of it less as magical fantasy, and more like negative reality) clearly and quickly, without missing a beat. Our scenic designer, JiYoung Han, has created a world that allows us to make these leaps.” The room has to be able to leap back, though: It will still be used for lectures, meetings, and functions. True to library form, the room’s a loaner.

Kim Klasner and Khloe Alice Lin in “peerless” by Jiehae Park at Company One. (Photo courtesy of Paul Fox)

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