With Love & Heavy Hearts

On February 11, 2022, Theatre Lunatico lost a dear friend and a treasured member of our company—
scenic designer & technical director
Gideon Jones
Gideon was both an artist and an inventor, and a vital part of the growth and development of La Val’s Subterranean. The theater was Gideon’s laboratory and he would tinker whenever he had a spare moment, conceiving and conjuring creative designs and improvements with little more than his innovation and hard work.

Gideon also managed the sub-rentals for the Subterranean and opened La Val’s doors to countless U.C. Berkeley students, actors, and theatre companies from all over the Bay Area. He helped each to transform the space for their productions and fulfill their artistic visions.

Our hearts ache from our own loss, and for the even greater loss felt by his family and close friends. Gideon was humble and creative, wickedly smart, loyal, and strong.

His creativity lay at the heart of all our productions. He quietly made the seemingly impossible happen…
“A physical ensemble theatre company needs a sprung wood floor.”
When we moved into the Subterranean in fall of 2017 with its concrete stage floor, our Artistic Director Tina Taylor said: “I know it’s a ridiculous idea, given our low ceiling, but we really need to install a sprung wood stage.” And while we all shook our heads doubting it was possible, Gideon leapt into action. He researched, conceptualized, and built us a sprung wood floor, even though the dimensions seemed impossible to work with. His ingenuity transformed the space, and we danced on our new stage with disbelief and joy!
Listen to Gideon cheer Shawn on as she tests out the new sprung floor!
“We need a submarine!”
For our production of Kursk, Tina said: “Well, I know this is crazy, but we need to create an immersive experience, so the audience feel like they’re in a submarine. And we need the stage to have four submarine compartments with bulkhead doors between each. And a periscope, we need a working periscope! I know that’s impossible…”

But he did it. Gideon created a set so beautiful, so simple, yet so complex and evocative that he was nominated for a Theatre Bay Area award. He constructed curved metal tubing hatches that were thin enough to not obstruct the view, a bridge with a periscope that could be raised and lowered, a shower room, bunks, and the captain’s quarters—a submarine in a small basement, a set that created a whole world completely out of proportion to its dimensions.
“Dracula needs a coffin.”
Dracula was one of our most popular shows, but it posed some challenges for Tina: “We need a Victorian blood transfusion device, transparent walls revealing Dracula lingering in a ghostly form outside of rooms, and a coffin that Michael can magically appear from and disappear from, and while he’s in the coffin, we need to drive a stake through his heart!”
Not a problem for Gideon. His imagination went into full gear, and he built a transfusion machine with brass levers and arm straps that appeared to transfer blood through a tube from one actor to the other. The coffin had a trap door that Michael could slither in and out of, and Gideon hung ghostly scrims that allowed Dracula to be an ever present threat…
Gideon designed and constructed sets for our last six productions. For Convoy 31000 he used moveable panels to transport us from a Parisian Cafe to the  concentration camp at Auschwitz. For Measure for Measure, an ingenious backdrop of metal bars, chains, and scraps that could also hold props and stools. And for Titus Andronicus, a world beneath a freeway underpass, ominously draped with plastic sheeting and crime scene tape.

We will be creating a gallery of his work at La Val’s where you can read more about Gideon’s legacy with Theatre Lunatico. 

From Artistic Director, Tina Taylor

Above all, Gideon was and always will be our friend. Our dear friend. Essential, vital, a bedrock of our company, who we all love. In a world of traps and footfalls, Gideon was always a rare safe space. A place where you felt seen and understood and taken care of. Where you could talk honestly and swear and curse and rage at this messed up world without judgment, but also where you could laugh at all the quirky ironies that life throws at us and he would somehow make you feel that, despite it all, everything would be okay. He was a magician in that way, too.

So this is how we will remember Gideon and hold him in our hearts. A wonderful magician who always reminded us of what was possible. Our dearest friend who always allowed us to trust that everything would be okay.
At the TBA Awards in 2018

From Shawn Oda & Tina Taylor, on behalf of the Lunatico core company.

Michael Barr
Deborah Cortez
Eileen Fisher
Shawn Oda
Omar Osario-Peña
Lauri Smith
Tina Taylor

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