Day 5 on the Design Direct Course

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Friday 23rd March. The day that I found both space and light.

The last few days have been an intensive experience and my mind has felt overcrowded since day one, incorporating a mass of new information, developing an idea of the text and trying to explore the Venn diagram intersection necessary for a successful collaboration with someone I have only just met. Although Renu and I quite quickly established a shared view of the world of the play, feeling the salon as a fragile, protected space set against a circling, exterior threat, and had agreed on the use of rangoli pattern as an expression of this and the basis of our set, each day bought new considerations to be incorporated into the design. As a result, I could not hold it as a distinct structure in my imagination. The rangoli was encircling me and I could not lift my mind from an endless preoccupation with the ground.

On this particular day we were due to begin constructing our model boxes and I knew that the changing of scales and the marking down of the dimensions of a real structure would give me a sense of calm and the space to more fully vision my imagined one. Instead of rushing out of the house in a whirl of plans and paper as soon as my children had left for school, I sat perfectly still on a chair and let myself build my set in my head, following each line to it’s end and trying to find a balanced resolution.

I then spent a deliciously calm morning in the company of Sue and the other designers working on our model boxes. As a person who can often imagine herself isolated and in seclusion from the lives of others, that morning spent working alongside other designers in cheerful companionship has been one of the highlights of this course…. although I do concede that my non stop whistling and tendency to mumble while I work could be annoying to others!

As the afternoon began, the sunlight shafted through the dusty window and stretched in golden pools across the wooden floor and we sat, in a respectful circle, to consider the vagaries and power of light with lighting designer, Prema Mehta. This proved to be a fascinating and illuminating (ha!) discussion, covering both technical considerations and the myriad uses light can be put to.

In summary; depth, mood, saturation,shadow, colour, time passing, softness, bleakness, intimacy…light does everything music does but with a vibration of pure, electromagnetic energy that travels in waves yet needs no medium to travel through, until it collides with your retina and makes you feel something.The power of the lighting designer is one to be exercised with subtlety and magnificence, an art of the arcane, the alchemical and itcomes as no surprise to me that Prema’s notes and lighting cues are written in a code that only she and other lighting designers can understand.

As the sun went down I returned home on the train, looking just like another weary traveller, staring blankly out of the window, but in reality a woman playing with a new universe inside her own head.

Moira Tighe – Designer

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