Riddley Walker

Studio Theatre, Virginia Tech (November 2002)

Lighting Designer

Dogs at Mincery

Dogs growling at the heavies inside the Mincery

Riddley Walker was unique in the fact that it used the entire theatre space, from trap room to catwalk, as acting area. The only set was the walls of the theatre itself. The lighting was the major design element in terms of mood & atmosphere.

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The people of Hows Fents

Riddley Walker lived in a post-apocalyptic world, where society had regressed to the Bronze Age, yet still retained memory of modern day technology. They did not remember how to create it, and lived in a continual search for the "One Big One" (nuclear power). They worshipped technology as an untainable god.

The atomosphere created by the lighting design for Virginia Tech's production of Riddley Walker reflected a world that would seem perfectly normal to the characters, yet have a slightly wrong feeling to the audience.

The idea of using the entire theatre space as acting area included the audience as well. Traditional houselights were not used, and the atmosphere of the audience space resembled that of a bombed out building, lit eerily through broken windows.

Lorna & Riddley at Hows Fents, the settlement where Riddley lives

Audience Seating Area

Conceptual sketch of the audience area as seen from upstage center.

Abel Goodparley and Riddley Walker

The lighting design for this production was inspired in part by another post-apocalyptic novel, A Canticle for Lebowitz, by Walter M. Miller, Jr. The cover illustrations from various editions of Lebowitz were the inspiration for the look of the Mincery (the seat of government in Riddley's world)

image from amazon.com
Image from amazon.com

The atmosphere of Granser's forest and the interior of the Power Plant were inspired by the cover illustration of the Russell Hoban's novel, Riddley Walker, which the theatrical script was based on.

Granser's Forest

Granser's Forest


The Power Place at Cambry

Lighting Design: Cathy Bowren

Puppets By: Tracy Sewell

Director: David Johnson

Mother Night in Cambry

The Mincery

Abel Goodparley and Erny Orfing overseeing the work at Widders Dump from the Mincery
Light Plot (dwg format)


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Cathy L. Darrow
Lighting Design & Stage Management
8301 44th Street, Lyons, IL
Last Updated 8-4-2003