Peaky Blinders: The Rise
Creating the immersive Peaky Blinders experience
By order of the Peaky Blinders, Camden Town will be taken over by the brand new fully immersive theatre show Peaky Blinders: The Rise this summer. The Vanguard Theatre, a brand-new venue, will be transporting audiences into the roaring 20s as Tommy Shelby begins his ambitious plans to take power in London.
For those who haven’t seen Peaky Blinders, Steven Knight’s BAFTA award winning TV drama series based in Birmingham in the 1920s, the show follows the gangster family, Shelby, in the lawless streets of Birmingham post the First World War. Audiences will be joining the gang’s boss, Tommy Shelby, to rise to fortune whilst taking over London. The unfolding narrative and live actors take the audience on a journey to the most iconic locations from the show.
WBD are extremely excited about our involvement as lighting designers for the project. Lighting Designer, Terry Cook, has been working with Creative Director, Tom Maller, and Production Designer, Rebecca Brower, who we recently worked alongside with on Doctor Who: Time Fracture. The show is presented by Immersive Everywhere, a company who have created some of the world’s most successful live theatrical experiences including titles such as The Great Gatsby and Doctor Who.
The design process started with Terry and Tom discussing the show and its different elements, considering how important the lighting would be and in particular how colour would affect the immersive world. Scenic design was by Rebecca who also worked closely with Terry, with the focus being on making the show feel as real as possible.
Terry Cook - “Our role was to work alongside all of the other creatives to encompass Tom’s vision of the world of Peaky Blinders. As audiences come in, we want them to forget about the outside world and really feel like they are surrounded by the gangs in gloomy London in the 1920s. A single lightbulb in the space or sunlight shining in through a window could be the primary focus of a scene, then the action that needs to be highlighted seemly appears into the space without the audience noticing a lighting change.”
Terry particularly wanted to add scent to the special effects design, as he felt this extra step would help the audience be transported in to the 1920s with the smell of whisky, cigarettes and cigars adding to the effect of the haze, smoke and cold spark machines. Associate Lighting Designer/Programmer, Matt Ladkin, has also worked closely with the team to make the creative vision a reality.
Terry again – “We started the design process by working through the three main spaces to understand the scenic elements in each of the rooms. The architectural splendour of the venue was extremely important to capture space as well as the constant movement of both the cast and the audience.“
“Lighting design for immersive theatre is a very different challenge to that of any other form of live performance. Becasue the audience is in effect, within the actual stage themselves, everything must feel real.” - Terry Cook
Wanting to embrace the importance of the light as seen on the TV show, Terry played with colour temperature a great deal. “Every window in the venue has been turned into a light box which allows us the ability to change the venue from day to night.”
The design also includes a large amount of practicals, which are backed up with hidden, or delicately placed, theatrical units. Many of these were adapted from those seen in the TV show. The production has over 600 lighting fixtures, 5 hazers, 1000 meters of LED tape.
As the final season of Peaky Blinders has now been aired and fans eagerly await the film to come out, what better time to be immersed in the world of Peaky Blinders for a truly unmissable show.
Producers: Peter Huntley
Creative Director: Tom Maller
Associate Director: Elena Voce
Script Writer: Katie Lyons
Production Design: Rebecca Brower
Composer: Barnaby Race
Lighting Design: Terry Cook
Sound Design: Luke Swaffield
Associate Lighting Designer: Matt Ladkin
Art Director: Ryan O'Conner
Fight Director: Stuart Boother
Movement Director: Charlie Burt
Intimacy Director: Raniah Al-sayed
Costune Supervisor: Michelle Bristow
Wigs Supervisor: Abbie Leigh Willets
Associate Designer: Hannah Postlethwaite
Production Manager: Erin Witton GBA
Lighting practicals: Electric Foundry Ltd
Lighting rental: White Light Ltd
Environmental scent: EcoSent