Let there be light

.300px-la_tour.jpgI would like to use light more in improv

There’s a tendancy, I think, to just settle for a flat wash. If you can see the actors then the lighting is ok.

But I think it’s wasteful to pass up any opportunity to shape a performance. I remember a great scene where we cut the lights and performed using flashlights (stolen from the ushers). I think the reason the scene (horror genre) remains etched in my mind is because the darkness heightened the reality of the experience ie. I kinda freaked out.

I’m always filled with joy when the lighting tech involves themselves in the performance; fading the lights down, adding colours or spots. (when lucky enough to actually be in a theatre with an actual lighting tech)

As I think about it, I’d love to do some improv using only candles for illumination.

I’ll get back to you on that one.

3 Responses to “Let there be light”

  1. Daniel Allan Says:

    Hi “Improbable,” and readers,

    I whole heartedly agree that the technical aspects of the night are another improv tool at your disposal. In Scared Scriptless here at the Court Theatre, we don’t have the sound and lighting imps of Johnstone lore, but we do have a ‘muso,’ (an improvisational musician at a keyboard) and a techie that can both be used to great effect.

    The role of the muso is another topic and probably source for another separate entry at some stage. Needless to say he plays a huge part in our play and as I write our muso Michael is actually preparing to MC a night, which will involve something along the lines of a musical ‘Harold.’ Yikes!

    I just wanted to mention a couple of ways in which we have used the techie in Scriptless (incidentally, I don’t think we use him enough).

    One night, at the top of the show I brought along Neil Diamond’s Hot August Night and before the show I arranged with the techie to produce a slow fade-in of the overture, building up over several minutes while the lights faded and eventually bursting into the first number of the album accompanied by full disco effect lights and the entry of the MC. Asides from being a lot of fun, this created a great sense of ‘event’ for the night and got the whole crowd in a bubbly mood. In effect it was a prelude to the show, completely removed from the improv (and the comedy), but it set the night up to be positive before the players had even got on stage.

    That same night I had arranged with Geoff to, at a time of his choosing, completely cut the lights out on a scene. When this duly happened in the second half nobody knew what was going on and some of the more experienced members on stage actually presumed there had been a power cut. “Keep improvising!” I yelled, which of course they did to good effect, utilising the ushers torches and moving the action into a basement.
    Any technical condition that forces your players to actually improvise can only be good for the spontaneity of the show. To paraphrase KJ, your lighting imp should make three mistakes every night.

    And yes, we have attempted scenes by candle-light on several occasions. Good fun, usually leading us into the horror genre, which is a favourite of the audience. In these types of scenes less is more, the Blair Witch principle of that which is hinted at is scarier than that which is presented to us.

    Yeah, so use the lighting!

  2. improbable Says:

    Daniel, thanks for the great comment.

    One thing I plan to write about is ‘making an entrance’ I think it’s such a fun thing to play around with.

  3. jill bernard Says:

    We did a scene once where it was dark and we had those tap lights stuck to our chests. You could only talk when your light was on, and either you or your partner could slap it on or off.

    It hurt like hell but it was fun.

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