William Liotta, chair of the University of New Mexico Department of Theatre and Dance, is one of only 100 designers selected globally, in a juried competition, to participate in the World Stage Design 2013 Exhibition, underway in Cardiff, Wales. WSD2013 is a celebration of international performance design from the world of theatre, opera and dance held every four years. The exhibition, which is the centerpiece of the festival, features a selection of the most innovative and ground breaking designs for performance from across the globe.
Liotta was selected for his lighting design for Mac Wellman’s Dracula ,which was performed in UNM's Carlisle Gym in 2009. Conceptual decisions that affected his design choices included moving the production out of a traditional theatre setting to a warehouse-like space where the existing walls, plumbing and electrical conduits were left visible. In describing the design, Liotta said, “Pumps, tubes and hoses were added to fill the space, creating a world of constantly moving fluids, particularly blood. Machines such as chain motors make reference to the industrial landscape of Victorian England.”
Liotta, who teaches lighting design in the Design for Performance program for UNM’s Department of Theatre and Dance, used lighting to reshape the space with color and intensity and to create a shift of mood and tone rather than realistically illustrate the settings. He also used lighting to emphasize objects and architectural elements of the set and space.
“In this production I was exploring the use of montage in cinema, but adapted for stage, also the use of chiaroscuro contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modeling three-dimensional objects such as the human body.” Liotta credits many influences and inspirations for his design for this production, including Caravaggio, Stanley Kubrick’s films, particularly Barry Lyndon, Sergei Eisenstein’s work, and German Expressionism.