Friday, October 15, 2010

Week 5: Entry 1: Tech time: Let there be light!

I love technical rehearsals. This is the first time everything really comes together: the lighting, sound, costumes and set, and much of the focus is on the technical aspects in a way that the actor can actually feel quite free and exploratory. The darkened auditorium, fractured by the light of laptops working out lighting plots and call-sheets, is a-whirr with the excitement of artists in creation.

For the lighting designer, it's the first time that they can really get to work. With costumes, props and set, the rehearsal period allows usually enough time to fine-tune much of the design. But it's only once all the colours of the costumes and set, and the style of the piece is fully evident, that the lighting designer can really weave their magic.

And Tom Munn is just the man for such magic. Tom is the Professor of Lighting Design in the Dept of Theatre and Dance, and he plied his profession at the San Francisco Opera for 25 years. This man knows his stuff. He knows the emotional effects that can be created through light and colour. He understands the rhythm that can be evoked by fade-ups, fade-downs, picking out moments with a follow-spot, etc. Because this is a particularly theatrical piece, Tom also has the chance to create some great theatrical effects with shadows. Frank Wedekind's style of performance was hugely influential in the development of German Expressionism, all those black and white, shadowy images of Gothic streets and castles, vampires and maidens in distress. And Tom is using the impact of a large shadow against a small person in some truly exciting ways.

Usually in a tech, I spend time as an actor sitting in the auditorium watching the effects being wrought with light. This is a one person play so sadly I can't do that this time. So I shall be relying on photographs and video to let me in to the textures and colours.

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