Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ah The Work, The Beautiful Work!

We Night Lighters have been busy lately. Suzanne moved to Knoxville (where she was recently accepted to their graduate program - whoo!) Bonnie has school, a new job, and a production of Elephant Man she's working on, and I believe Andrew is busy putting together another brilliant lighting design for True West. As for myself, I'm wrapping up R and G, and hard at work on Midsummer's Night Dream at Richmond Shakes. Needless to say, free time is a luxury that we are unable to indulge in right now. Which is a little nerve racking, because if we can barely find time to eat dinner, how are we going to keep this company afloat? How are we going to keep ourselves sane?

Yet, somehow, the work itself is what keeps us on our feet. I'm fortunate enough to be rehearsing with a very talented cast right now, and every day at rehearsal I want to push myself further and further just to keep pace with those around me. And then, I get home from rehearsal, and all I want to do is work on my script! I actually feel bad that I'm only pushing myself to mild exasperation. I could be giving more, doing more, getting further along in my process faster! What sort of super drug is this work? Why are the three cups of coffee I drink before going into work every morning not providing anywhere near the energy that this is?

The answer is simple, of course. Because I'm invested in this work with my whole body and soul. And because of that, I realize that any fears that I have for this company are unfounded. This is the work that drives us through the day, that energizes us past the normal levels of fatigue. Night Light Collective is not only interesting theatre work to us, it's super theatre, because of how much we have invested in this. And with any investment, we can only hope that we will be able to get more out of it than we put in. And that might just make all the exhaustion worth it.

- Kerry

Friday, March 20, 2009

Viewpoint Designing

As you may know from Kerry’s last post, I designed lights for Henley Street’s production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. I just wanted to explain the process on designing a show around the viewpoint based directing technique used by Michael Sater (or Mike Slater to his friends). Viewpoints is a guiding strategy, originally used in dance, to help actors/dancers be aware of spatial relations, shape, time, movement, etc. It is used as a way to allow the action to be more organic and natural than a director’s given set of blocking. To be fair, the director gives places and positions for different pieces of the script, but getting there is up to the actors.

However, it also allows for flexibility. In fact, you may not ever see the same show twice, over the course of the run. The other bad thing for a lighting designer is that you cannot plan ahead. You have to take the show as it happens and since the onus is on the actors and what they create, it is hard to figure out what the director is looking for until about halfway through the rehearsal process. After watching a few rehearsals it became very clear with R&G that the actors knew where center stage was and really played there. In this case, Mike and I decided to try to hide some of the “offstage” actions by darkening the edges of the stage and giving the actors one more thing to play with, light and dark.

I have to say that viewpointing is an interesting technique, but to work with it as a designer, you have to be flexible. You need to have a vision, but you also need to realize that your vision will change. Working with this process is all about adaptability. It would be better to have a live lighting design every night. Pine Camp may not be the best place for this technique. That space does not have the capabilities to cover any predictable course the actors may take. Every show I design drives me more to the conclusion that designing lights would be so much easier without those pesky actors…


Friday, March 13, 2009

R and G featuring A and K

If you're having trouble filling the void until the next Night Light show, make sure to check out Henley St.'s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead featuring a superb lighting design by Andrew Bonniwell, and showcasing my amazing ability to memorize lines (Thank goodness half of them are "Heads"). For more detailed information, please visit Henley St.'s web page:

- Kerry

Friday, March 6, 2009

The E Word

The word of the day is ensemble. The Encarta Dictionary defines it as “something created from a number of individual parts put together deliberately”. I know in theater it can be more than that, it can be a safety net, a close group of people who can take artistic risks because of their report with each other. That being said how can we go about creating them? Can they be created, or do they just happen? It’s been on my mind recently because I’m interested in theatrical process and product that utilizes them. I have been a part of many successful ensembles and it has been amazing. The safety net that they created enabled me to take risks and do things that I never had thought I could do. I have also been apart of some fairly unsuccessful ensembles, shows where the cast never quite bonded, classes where infighting and outside social codes got in the way of creating an environment where everyone can flourish. I’m not sure exactly what makes a good ensemble happen, but I know when it does, it’s like nothing else in the world.
This past semester in Russia was all about ensemble. It’s the way that they teach acting at the Moscow Art Theater (MAXT). If one person is late to class, they ask the whole class where they are. We had to create etudes (short improvised scenes) together every night for 3 months, in order to show them in class the next morning. With 14 people in my core acting block, 14 very different people from all over the country who had never meet before, it was difficult. It sometimes took us 2 hours to come up with a 30 second scene to show in class the next day. There was fighting and bickering. Our ensemble did not simply fall together, even though we all lived and worked together 24 hours a day and were experiencing a whole new culture together. Something wasn’t connecting. And we all wanted it, we all wanted support so badly from each other, and still, we were not able to look out for each other. I’m not sure what it was but in the 2nd month something finally clicked. We all began to feel comfortable with each other, to care about each other, and to catch each other when we fell. I think for us it was the discovery that we all wanted the same things from the theater, that our aesthetic, despite small differences was actually very similar and that we all brought something unique to the process. It happened almost imperceptibly, and now I miss every one of my ensemble members dearly. I miss people who, at one point in the semester, I thought I might strangle. I’m meditating on it, I’d like to know exactly what it was so that I could make it happen again, but I’m not sure that there is any right answer. I think every group may be different. Some ensembles are formed overnight, some take 2 months. If I every find the key, I’ll be sure to let you know, until then, we’ll keep striving for it.

Ensemble- the relationships that breed fearless art

Lighter, Freeer, More Joyful.