Lighting design is the mysterious final element in making a piece of theatre. The script, costumes, set and props are all ready before the production process starts. During rehearsals you keep practicing and honing the final performance. But it’s only in the last few days when you see things under light that the world of the show starts to take shape.
One of the things that drew me to work at Little Angel was to be involved in pure visual theatre, where the limits and possibilities of light would be an essential element in the storytelling.
It struck me when working at Little Angel how everybody in the team was literally focused on the same goal, bringing these miniature inanimate objects to life. Whatever our individual roles were within the team, it all came together when a puppet suddenly appears autonomous in its little shaft of light. And puppeteers have an advantage when performing – they can actually see when the puppet isn’t in the light.
There’s a fascinating shared history between puppetry and dance, both forms of visual storytelling, both asking the audience to enjoy the form of the body and the subtleties and nuance of movement. In puppetry, like in dance, we use a lot of tight corridors of side light. A puppet moving into this sudden shaft can visually pop out from the world behind it – suddenly liberated from the puppeteer behind. The operator becomes a piece of scenery, always there but also separate. Sometimes we might dress them in black velvet hoods with gauze over the eyes, and they completely disappear in inky blackness with the puppet the sole focus. Other times they’re part of the bigger stage picture, but drenched in a deep blue backlight with the puppet brilliantly bold in front.
This spring we’ll be running a class looking at all this and more, exploring how and when a puppet comes to life in stage light. If you can’t make it then just come along and watch, and relish that moment of pure stage alchemy when a puppet steps into a fine wash of light and becomes real.
Stage Lighting for Puppet Theatre is on Sunday 22nd March from 10am-5pm at Little Angel Theatre. £45. Do not miss this fantastic opportunity. Book your place by calling our box office on 020 7226 1787. For more information click HERE.
This blog post was written by David Duffy who will be leading the Stage Lighting for Puppet Theatre course at Little Angel Theatre on 22 March 2015. David has been the our resident Lighting Designer and Technical Manager since 2008, lighting the majority of our productions. A background in lighting for dance has informed his design work, and he has worked in training and teaching lighting for theatre. David’s course will be enhanced by practical exercises and outside perspective from a professional puppeteer.