Wolf Hall, Parts One And Two On Broadway

(Photo by Johan Persson)

The Royal Shakespeare Company brought the complex six-hour political saga of Wolf Hall, told in two parts, to Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway in 2015. Adapted by Mike Poulton from Hilary Mantel’s historical novels, the play focuses on the rise and future fall of Thomas Cromwell. The play received eight 2015 Tony Award nominations, including for its lighting design by Paule Constable and David Plater as well as for scenic and costume design by Christopher Oram, who took home the Tony for Best Costume Design of a Play.

The austere, harsh setting contrasted with the people and their costumes, which provided the strongest source of color. The angled walls that flanked each side of the pointed stage and Brutalist dark gray, concrete-like structures pierced-through with openings were reminiscent of medieval castle walls. Fire shot from grates in the floor, and the light behind the slashed back wall revealed a cross. Overhead, a grid-like structure of three-dimensional open cubes hovered above the stage. The minimalism of the space enhanced the focus on the action. The set was built by Hudson Scenic.

Set rendering courtesy of Christopher Oram

Constable and Plater’s dramatic lighting used shadow and piercing beams of light. Each play, or part, has 33 scenes, and the production relied almost entirely on lighting and minimal props for location, time of day, and mood. The open space created by Oram’s set served, at times, as a backdrop to the dramatic storytelling of the light. Single shafts of light etched out the characters and skimmed along the cross in the upstage wall. Constable, lighting designer of Part One, said, “I felt that light should hold the space,” Constable says. “It’s sort of rock ‘n’ roll meets Tudors.” The austere world of Part One exploded into color and texture in Part Two—lit by Plater—conveying Henry VIII’s hope in Jane Seymour.

Photo by Jphan Persson

The lighting equipment was provided by Christie Lites, and the only automated fixtures were 10 ETC Source Four Revolutions, 12 Harman Martin Professional MAC TW1s, six Philips Vari-Lite VL3500Qs, and five Clay Paky Alpha Beam 300s. The show ran via an ETC Eos. There were also three eight-lamp DHA Digital Light Curtains, with eight VNSP PAR 56 lamps in each. Plater and Constable have also included atmospheric effects, from rain and snow to haze, smoke, and real flame effects.


  • Production Company: Royal Shakespeare Company
  • Director: Jeremy Herrin
  • Lighting Designer: Paule Constable and David Plater
  • Scenic and Costume Designer: Christopher Oram
  • Sound Designer: Nick Powell
  • Production Stage Manager: Michael Passaro
  • Lighting Supplier: Christie Lites
  • Set Build: Hudson Scenic
Partial Lighting Gear
  • 2 ETC Eos Console (one backup)
  • 12 Harman Martin Professional MAC TW1
  • 6 Philips Vari-Lite VL3500QS
  • 5 Clay Paky Alpha Beam 300
  • 10 ETC Source Four Revolution 
  • 18 ETC Source Four Ellipsoidal 26° 
  • 50 ETC Source Four Ellipsoidal 36° 
  • 22 ETC Source Four Ellipsoidal 50° 
  • 13 ETC Source Four PAR WFL 
  • 4 ETC Source Four PAR MFL 
  • 8 Philips Strand Bambino 5kW Fresnel
  • 106 Wybron Coloram II Scroller 
  • 3 Harman Martin Professional Atomic 3000 Strobe
  • 2 Robert Juliat Quincy 
  • 1 Lycian 1290 Followspot 
  • 16 L&E Mini-Strip 10-Light
  • 6 Altman Lighting 10'' Fresnel 2kW
  • 36 PAR 64 VNSP 1kW 
  • 4 PAR 64 NSP 1kW
  • 90 PAR 64 MFL 1kW 
  • 48 PAR 64 ACL
  • 3 ETC Net3 Remote Video Interface
  • 2 ETC Net3 Gateway
  • 3 ETC 96x2.4kW Sensor+ Touring Rack
  • 4 Harman Martin Jem AF-1 Fan 
  • 2 Look Solutions Viper NT Fog Machine 
  • 2 MDG Atmosphere Hazer
  • 3 8-Lamp Pitching DLC

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