Published February 2, 2018
UB faculty, staff and students are back for the 2018 edition of “Lumagination,” the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens’ annual light and sound show, and this year the team has some special — and unexpected — touches for its display in Dome 11, including a glowing mantis shrimp named Charlotte, an original score and some live performances.
After a successful debut last year with two illuminated lawn sculptures and a special light and soundscape in the Panama Cloud Forest greenhouse, the team from the Department of Theatre and Dance is back in Dome 11 for an encore that embraces this year’s theme — life under the sea.
“Viewers can expect a more dynamic presentation, with greater impact from the street view,” says Lynne Koscielniak, associate professor of scenography, department chair and faculty design supervisor for the UB Lumagination team.
Working in collaboration with the show’s producer, Luminated Landscapes of East Aurora, the UB team has added more light to the dome this year, Koscielniak says, noting that this year’s enhanced, five-minute light show is synced to “Wunderwater Medley,” original music composed by Eric Burlingame, technical assistant in the Department of Theatre and Dance.
Students from the department’s Design and Technology program — under the direction of Koscielniak and Scene Shop manager Rick Haug — designed and constructed oceanic elements for the greenhouse that include an automated treasure chest, light-up kelp, Plexiglas waves and the headline-stealing Charlotte.
And Tatyana Wilds, visiting assistant professor of scenography, developed a projection for the dome that transports viewers to an aquarium, where schools of fish travel behind glass.
Koscielniak notes that perhaps the most valuable aspect of UB’s involvement in Lumagination is that it introduces design and technology majors “to the complexities of site-specific work.”
Taking part in the project offers students the opportunity to “take their theater training and apply it to a community event,” she says. “The students conceive the project and see it through to fabrication and installation. It’s valuable experiential learning.”
She adds that this year a video kiosk in the dome will “further introduce viewers to our creative and technical process.”
Koscielniak points out that this year’s project builds on last year’s experience, which taught students about the moisture levels in the dome. “We have worked to make the scenic elements water-resistant, and the students have become acquainted with new lighting technologies meant to withstand moist environments,” she says.
But what may also help set the UB display apart from others at this year’s Lumagination is the appearance of theatre and dance students in one-night-only performances of “WNY Water Folklore: Three Original Scenes.”
“Folklore,” directed by associate professor Maria Horne, is a series of three, five-minute performances developed by students in Horne’s fall semester “Performing the Archive” class. Horne says students researched music, stories and accounts surrounding water — with particular attention to Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and Niagara Falls — and they also wrote the scripts, arranged the music and designed a puppet named “Bessie,” which is the star of a fun piece on Lake Erie’s version of the Loch Ness monster.
Another vignette tells the story behind the Maid of the Mist, while the third uses poetry and music to tell the story of the many slaves who crossed the Niagara River to freedom in the 1800s.
The students “collaborated and created together, and now they are sharing their work with Western New York,” Horne says.
Students will present “Folklore” every 15 minutes, from 7:15 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., on Feb. 7. The light and sound show will run between the performances.
Students involved in “Folklore” are Julia Dean, Emma English, Jaimee Harmon, Joseph Isgar, LeighErin Jass, Annika Johnson, Danielle Johnson, Julia Krieter, Sawyer Matheny, Matthew Rittler and Jessica Steinbach.
Students who worked on the light and sound display in the dome are Joe Crumlish, Alex Farley, Katherine Metzler, Gina Boccolucci, Hannah Wolland, Ariel Kregal and Mary Alice Groat.
Lumagination runs Feb. 1-3, 7-11 and 14-24 at the botanical gardens, 2655 South Park Ave. Hours are 6-9 p.m. and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Visit the botanical gardens’ website for admission prices and information about Lumagination special events. UB students receive $2 off admission on Feb. 16.