To Light Boar’s Head: 86,000 Watts, a Loyal Crew – and Trevor

October 24, 2014

Trevor Shibley’s theatrical lighting friends like to tease him that the only way to get out of Boar’s Head is to move south.

One went to Kings Productions, another to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and a third jokes he sees Tampa in his future. But Trevor has more friends—lots of them--and every December he calls. And every December, they come to help Trevor create the magical light for the Boar’s Head Festival at Christ Church Cathedral.

It all started in the fifth grade at Rosedale Elementary School in Middletown, where a stage-struck Trevor decided, “I’m not an actor, and I’m not a singer – so I did lighting.” 

Right out of high school, the Kings Island entertainment department snapped him up – and a career was launched. He loved the variety there – lighting shows one week and helping transport dolphins the next -- but ultimately he moved to videographer work for the Animal Planet cable channel and then to theatrical lighting for Carnival cruise lines. 

Seeking a more stable life, he moved back here eight years ago and went to work for Vincent Lighting Systems in Erlanger– in his present day job, overseeing major lighting installations.

Through all the job changes, he has managed to be in town the week of Boar’s Head.

While working at Kings Island in 1988, Trevor met Stefan Skirtz, a Christ Church parishioner who was the Boar’s Head lighting director. Stefan asked a few of his co-workers, including Trevor, to lend a hand at the festival. Trevor loved the production and its challenges and was hooked.

In early December 1993, Trevor received a FedEx delivery: a small envelope containing a lighting diagram, notes and a key. Stefan was moving on. 

With that delivery, Trevor became the Boar’s Head lighting guru and has kept it up for more than 20 years – even the occasional years when he has made director Bob Beiring extremely nervous about conflicts with his day-job assignments.

Trevor and the friends he’s worked with over the years show up about a week before Boar’s Head with scores of rented 575-watt theatrical lights to supplement the church’s and provide the more than 150 points of light that are necessary to give the festival its visual magic. 

For every light, a cable – even in the crawl space above the nave
Photo courtesy of Trevor Shibley

They work into the wee hours of the night because they have day jobs. In a few days they run more than a thousand feet of cable and mount lights on the nave walls, in discreet spots on the chancel floor, in the balcony and on the ceiling in places where ordinary lighting normally resides. 

There are many kinds of lights:
         Lights equipped with blue gels that let people read their programs in the dark and others with red gels that enhance the Beefeaters’ uniforms.
         Four “specials” -- lights that enhance the Rubens portrait.
         Color mixes that – for instance – combine reds and blues to wash the back wall in purple light.
        Spotlights that follow performers and other lights that illuminate specific areas of the nave.
         Lights for the kings’ presentation of gifts. Lights for the waits and lights that let the audience see faces as performers enter from the narthex.
         There are cool–colored lights for serious scenes and warm ones for cheerful scenes. 

Lane Williams focuses the candle splashes
Photo courtesy of Trevor Shibley

The lighting crew’s hard work comes together in
 a moment of stage magic
Photo courtesy of Trevor Shibley

         Some lights have shutters that narrow their beams to one particular place and others have cut-out filters called Gobos that throw candle and tree images on the wall.
         There’s even a light that makes the rose in the rose window seem to spin around. 

Plans, the follow spot (with Joe McLean), the light board, 
singers and musicians fit tightly together
Photo courtesy of Trevor Shibley 

All of this is controlled by a big, rented light board. Someday, Trevor hopes to program that board for each scene in the Boar’s Head script. But for now, he and his right-hand assistant run it manually. They sometimes are cued by a certain performer’s gesture or a certain sustained note ordered up by music director Stephan Casurella. People in the audience don’t see this intimate relationship between acting, music and light – but that intersection is where Trevor lives during a performance.

Trevor in his element, with the “best seat in the house”
Photo courtesy of Trevor Shibley

“I have the best seat in the house,” he says, with the orchestra and singers behind him and the complex performance laid out in front of him.

And then, after four performances, the magic is over and tons of gear must be carried out of the church by midnight. After all, director Beiring has only paid for a one-week rental of the lights and light board.

A few days later Trevor returns to refocus and repoint the church’s basic lighting -- and then it’s back to the day job for 51 weeks before Boar’s Head starts up all over again.

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