Shedding light on his subjects

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 March, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 March, 1994, 12:00am

RICHARD Pacholski must count circuit breakers in his sleep.

The lighting design associate for Cats sees the shipment of semi-trailer loads of lights, 350 1,000 watt lights brought in a mounted, 2,000 flashing festoon lights strung and the bulbs changed after every move, four follow spotlights to follow the cats around and he estimates that during each performance, there are 200 basic lighting cues.

He is a man who wields a lot of power in a production like Cats where the degrees of light and darkness are an integral part of the show.

''Things go wrong of course, but we usually have things pretty well covered,'' said Mr Pacholski on the third day of mounting lights and flicking switches, programming computers and checking circuits in readiness for the second season of the show.

''In Seoul we needed a generator because of the different power.

''Bulbs blow, but with so many lights usually only I would notice.

''If it is a very important light, we would have two mounted in that area.'' One of the great things about the intimacy of the Lyric Theatre, he said, was that when the lights went out, the venue was in total darkness.

''Cats pop out of the blackness and it's a great surprise for the audience,'' he said.

''And the festoon lighting is really effective.'' Computers have made cueing the lights a lot easier.

''Before, I had to use my eyes a lot more,'' he laughed.

After three days of working from 9am until 11pm, everything is ready - almost.

''We really don't know if everything is perfect until the cast comes on stage for rehearsal,'' said Mr Pacholski.

''It usually takes the full four days to set it all up and ensure the lights are focussed.

''There is nothing boring about this work,'' added Mr Pacholski, who as a student studied all facets of theatre from making costumes, to props and painting before specialising in lighting and heading out to work at the Adelaide Festival Theatre.

''After 10 moves with Cats I still love it. The junk set is perfect to maximise the lighting effects,'' he added.