Construction floodlights line the edge of the apron, a modern commentary on conventional footlights, which
traditionally frame the performance space in a gilded system of patronage. Our industrial footlight
illuminates the action in the stark, revealing light of truth, exposing the artifice of performance while serving as a reminder of the vaudevillian and burlesque heritage of the opera. Other practical lights built into the set perform important narrative functions. Inspired by Amsterdam’s red light district, neon “Prostitution Lights” turn on to create holding cells in the scaffolding of the Nightcourt and draw a visual parallel from Moll’s prostitution to the selling of the self that marks the members of Mr. Mister’s Liberty Committee. For the scenes set in the Nightcourt, a fluorescent light bank with embedded lights flies in to create an oppressive bureaucratic environment, and a tremulous glow reveals the action below, while the shadow of the social engine looms overhead. Light carves out the literal machine onstage, revealing its teeth for the first appearance of Larry Foreman after Moll’s fervent recognition of “Nickel Under the Foot.” Throughout the entire opera, the lighting focuses on the costumed crew rotating and reconfiguring the central machine, transforming each scene shift into a broader metaphor of man at work. As one scene transitions into the next, the lighting indicates changes of time and space, evoking cinematic effects to create the vignettes, crossfades, jump cuts, and split screen effects implied by the composer in both the score and libretto.