When we decided to tell the story of the simplicity and humility of the event we call Christmas, our vision was for a minimalistic look on our stage. Our vision was to keep everything that spoke to the commercialized thing Christmas has became, out of our room. Basically, no materials traditionally used as Christmas decor would be used. We went through many conversations on what told that story visually. We spent most of the summer with just a black stage and then I added the light bulb cross towards the end of summer. With this in mind, I started brainstorming ‘what would simple look like for our room?’
My first concept was to create an empty theater feel. Pipes hanging low with lights on them. A curtain pulled back to expose electrical panels. Ladders, c-stands, and various light fixtures sitting around the stage. All of which would have to be created since we don’t have a fly loft and the back of our stage is windows with a very traditional cherry wood wall that we covered since we moved in. I really liked this idea but it would have taken a lot to pull off. The struggle was to create something that told the story of simple that did not take more energy than the average set.
During a creative meeting over lunch at Whole Foods, we came up with the concept of the star sculpture as a center piece. The original concept had white cords hanging off with bulbs at random heights. After several attempts we decided to scrap that part of the concept. I designed the star sculpture out of 1/2” X10’ electrical conduit. It is actually three complete stars all at different angles. We used black zip ties to attach the conduit at each intersection.
Taking the stage design one step further, we looked at the music section of our service through the same lens. ‘What would it look like to do what we usually do with less technology?’ The first thought is that the band would just have amps on stage, all vocals and instruments would run through the amps. The problem with this is that we had to cover the entire room, feed the rest of the building with audio, and had to have a bit of control because you know someone would leave something turned on and it would make noise during the message.
This lead to the decision to place 4 Yamaha 12” wedges from storage on stage to provide sound for the music. We then fead amps on stage from an omni out on our board. This allowed us to use the Yamaha’s for the music and our main system for the message. To illustrate the amp concept, we rounded up every amp and random speaker we could find in the building and placed them around the wedges. We ran cables in the amps and powered them on to complete the look. This actually made things more complicated in the long run but told the story of simple.
We also took down our video screens and printed lyrics on paper for the first two weeks of the series. The decision to put the screens back up was driven by money. It cost us a fair amount of money to print lyrics for both campuses every week. Another example of how trying to tell the story of simple ended up being more complicated behind the scenes than normal life.