Aimee and Jaguar – Lighting Design by Jessica Harpenau


Aimée and Jaguar Design Statement

Aimée and Jaguar by Lillian Groag is a beautiful play of love and circumstance for two women in Third Reich Berlin. Based on the real love story of Lilly Wurst, a German officer’s wife and the love of her life, Felice Schragenheim, who was a Jewish U-boat. The lighting design created a chilling and poetic space within the scenes onstage that extended to the fringes of the scenic environment where refugees would seek shelter in the rubble and to the textured wall upstage. Lily’s apartment began as a safe haven from the danger of war outside. I enhanced the desolate interiors with a cool, white light to convey a false façade of a safe haven and juxtaposed these with the picnic scenes, where the two lovers basked in the warmth of the sun. Günter, Lily’s husband, wrote several letters to Lily from the front, and we see him descend into distressed remorse. By lighting Günter in a crisp white light separate from the apartment, it created the shadow of his presence in the apartment as Lily reads the letters.

As the story progressed under Joseph Hanreddy’s direction, I composed the foreground, middle ground, and background to reveal the evolving depth and layers of the play’s world. The scenic design was made of a floating wall of windows with a fragmented ceiling and a raked wood floor set on an oblique angle that extended into the audience. I chose colors that let the characters activate the foreground with pops of color in the clothes within a muted palette. The middle ground evoked conditions of Berlin right outside the window with shadows that streaked across them as if your neighbors watched your every move. The textured wall upstage served as a canvas on which I painted an Expressionist display of Germany’s distress as the story moves forward and the world of Berlin crumbles politically and poetically creating compositions of light, color and texture that suggest fires, explosions and shadows that are black and now lack color fill. Characters that once knew Berlin as a youthful, thriving metropolis and the center of art and culture, were forced to see it racked and devastated by war.

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