Thursday, June 10, 2010

TUGHLAQ: the lights perspective

From the desk of Kamala Subramaniam
As Tughlaq embraces Giyasuddin, I am pretty sure I can see that glint in his eye which tells me he is up to something very Machiavellian. The next moment Tughlaq whirls him around to center stage where he maniacally thrusts his knife into him killing viciously. And then a few more thrusts on an already very dead Giyasuddin followed by a tilt of his head upward to depict one of India's most eccentric rulers. It is at this point that I sigh and rise up from my very comfortable position in the lights and sound booth in search of a ladder. To ensure that a slight tilt to the light above will enable every seat in the audience to witness what I just did: the cruelest cut of all which turned my blood cold causing the hair follicles to stand straight up.

Lighting also just seemed just perfect to witness the camaraderie of Aziz and Azam in the every well lit marketplace. The lightest moments of the play also turn out to be the best. Azam fooling around Aziz while Aziz throws his weight around is a must watch. And then there comes a point in a play where lights get challenging. With the same wash reduced in intensity, these two very innocous, jovial characters will make your stomach churn as they plot and execute murder. Did Azam really mean it when he asked Aziz not to kill? Why did he then run away only to come back out of the dark to hold the victim while Aziz drove the knife right in? While Azam walks into the lit stage after the kill, why is he panting in such a god-awful manner? As the lights shine on him, we will wonder if he just repenting or if he is playing us all?

From a lights perspective, Tabard is a very interesting theater. Tabard not being our home-ground like Cubberly was definitely challenging. Also, Tabard being a not-for-profit theater meant we had to hang our own lights and pretty much do everything from scratch. Tabard is also interesting in that the audience is seated in three sections across the stage leading to a lot of cross-lighting across many planes to ensure minimal shadowing in every section. With the help of Sujit and Abhishek, we confronted these challenges so that the audience will be able to witness Tughlaq's eccentricities, follies, weakness and his fears.

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