Chairman of the (lighting) board
If you’ve sat in the Daylesford Theatre audience any time in the past few years, chances are that 13-year-old Ryan Day played an unseen hand in the show.
From behind the scenes, the youngest person to be left in charge of the lighting board has steered productions through any number of technical hitches that you probably didn’t notice either.
“The lighting means everything you see,” the Saltus year nine student said, recalling the second night of the 2010 Christmas pantomime ‘Firebird’ as “the first and only time I messed up”.
In that case, the stage was briefly blacked out, and the actor made a joke about Belco.
During a lighting snag in the 2011 panto, “Ryan kept a cool head throughout, even though he was alone in the lighting booth”, recalled Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society lighting designer Mary Brier.
“Ryan was able to work with the computer and sort the problem out without anyone in the audience realising there had been a problem.”
For the Premier’s Concert on December 8, Ryan designed the lighting in just one day, and got formal recognition for his contribution — the first occasion in the history of the concert that an acknowledgment was given for a category outside the performing arts.
“It was only me — the stage manager didn’t tell me what to do. I could do whatever I wanted with it.”
Laptop computers have made a tough job easier, but there are still plenty of chances to burn your fingers while working the lights.
The light operator isn’t wholly removed from the production: if there’s a scene with yelling or singing, “sometimes you get to stand up and make some noise”, Ryan said.
For this month’s upcoming BMDS show ‘Bouncers’, billed as a madcap take on the world of disco, Ryan will be put to the test.
“It’s going to be really well-lit,” the Point Shares teen said. “It’s not a normal show. I’d like to do more technical stuff in this one, with moving lights and colour changes.”
Showing from February 14 to 16 and 21 to 23, ‘Bouncers’ will range from flashing nightclub lights to more subtle effects connoting movement or mood.
Along with designer Ray Buckholder, Ryan will be working the bag of combined tricks that will conjure a crazed night out on the stage.
The job started weeks ago with the cleaning and testing of the lights and lenses.
The battery of lights are then hung, and cued by computer. Ryan’s job also includes taking them down and packing them away after the show.
Ryan’s introduction to theatre came through his mother, BMDS volunteer Kim Day, when he was ten years old.
“I liked working with the lights and I guess I progressed, became more fluent with them over time,” he said.
“Mary Brier showed me the lights and what they do, gave me all the basic. Ray showed me the technical side.”
Said Ms Brier: “It’s not just lighting that Ryan has turned his hand to. On one show he was the special effects guy controlling a remote controlled rat.
“He’s also been called in at the last minute to work the lights at a production, ‘A Kiss on the Bottom’, at the Daylesford last year when the lighting technician couldn’t make it.
“He managed the board amazingly, especially as he hadn’t seen the show and wasn’t aware where the cues were.”
An avid footballer with the Bermuda Athletic Association, Ryan trains five times a week as an Under-14 goalie.
But his dream, from an early age, is aircraft and flight.
“I’d like to design a small show and take lighting further,” he said, “but when I grow up, I want to be a pilot. If I can, I’ll be lighting for shows on the side.”
Useful website: www.bmds.bm