Can You See the Light Part 2

I feel like I should get in on this – as the lighting designer for Candles to the Sun, I’ve been thinking a lot about Williams’ use of light and dark as metaphors throughout the script. His plays are always a challenge and a joy for a lighting designer (I designed our lights for Eccentricities of a Nightingale and Suddenly, Last Summer in the 1999 season), and in Candles to the Sun light is, in many ways, a character in the story.

I started talking to director Steven Fedoruk months ago about how we wanted to use light and shadow to tell this story. Both of us had the sense that this design needed to reflect the metaphorical contrast Williams uses, as well as create the heightened reality of being in the world of a coal mine.

In the first line of the stage directions, Williams establishes the image that defines this lighting design for me:

In a mining camp in the Red Hill section of Alabama, it is a typical miner’s cabin, sparsely furnished, and dark, lit only by a faint streak of lamplight coming from a partially opened door of an adjoining room.

Throughout the play, there are references to light: Fern, named for a plant that seeks out the light; Bram, whose eyesight gets worse as he spends more of his life in the darkness of the mines; dialogue about how dim the lantern is, how bright the sunshine is, and how characters can disappear in the shadows.

So I’m playing with “streaks” of light as an important part of my design – using them to highlight moments and hide things, and explore the metaphors.

The photo on the right is one of many I’ve pulled together in my research, Candles to the Sun by Tennessee Williamslooking at the ways light can create natural streaks in mines and caves. It’s the kind of image I have in my head as I’m thinking about Williams’ wonderfully poetic description of my key visibility light in the opening stage directions.

The little doodle on the left (click for a full-size version) is my sketch for the end of that first scene – the moment when Joel points out to Hester the ominous letter she’s just dropped on the floor. I’m not so good at drawing, but if you’ve read the post this long hopefully you won’t hold that against me. Here a streak of light is separating mother and son by highlighting the letter, as a lantern throws shadows around the room.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: