Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Interview with Tomáš Morávek (CZ) by Kristóf Farkas

“I am sitting behind the lighting console, but I feel like I am dancing” 
interview with Tomáš Morávek  (CZ) by Kristóf Farkas

“Let there be light.” And we can be pretty sure there will be. Tomáš Morávek is dedicated to light design and all spheres of it, so beside the co-operation in the performance XIRA with jaro viňarský (SK), he will teach a special workshop during L1danceFest 2015. Here he worked together with Márta Ladjánszki last year on her choreography UNTITLED – a meditation in one act, just as in February during the PV4 – Biennial of VARP-PA Residents, so he is not just an annual guest, but a constant co-creator, next to his projects in Duncan Center in Prague and in recent times with company Vosto5 (CZ). 

And God said, “Let there be light.” When people watch a performance, it is not that obvious, that without your work, only darkness would be on the stage. With your participation and kind of omnipotence, a whole new isolated world is born with its own days and nights – ruled by you. What do you think about your position in the creation?
Light is a great element, which gives life to all beings on our planet.
Its natural function is to give us the chance to see, move safely in the space and do all the things we need to do for our survival. On the other hand, light is also connected with spiritual thinking, not only in our Christian culture. There are other religions as well as spiritualists, which refer to „eternal light” or „enlightenment”, etc…
We know from our history, that taming the fire, the discovery of oils lamps, later gas lamps and finally electrification moved the humankind further every time. They prolong the day for humans, and that’s why for example a few scientist or thinkers had – thanks to artificial lighting – a little bit more time for their discoveries or creation. On the other hand, we are nowadays confronted with the surfeit, or overdose of light in many different forms, which is attacking us.
Theatre space is basically something like a maquette of our universe with artificial darkness, where we are trying to listen to the worlds, which are created by theatre makers. Sometimes these planets are closer sometimes more distant to me, but I am trying to establish a connection and hold a contact as long as possible. If the performance needs just one lighting change, then I don’t need to search more, but then I am curious which qualities will the light have. Will it be warm or cold, sharp or soft? But first of all, from where it will fall on the scene? Light is not there just because of visibility. It enables us to perceive the time and timing of the scenes on the stage. The situation is the same as with the sun during the day.
My role in the creative process is to be a part of the team and to try to listen to all team members, because theatre is team profession.

Can we say that light design is not just a completion of what happens on the stage with/by the body, but lives its very own life? What if lights are more vivid than the individual?
My personal opinion is that there are only two principles how to create lighting design for theatre forms. One is about maximally fulfilling (not only) the visual content of the performance, when the lighting part is not drawing attention and is not stronger than other parts of the show (scene, costumes, music, text or action), even the lighting design is “invisible”. The audience is leaving the theatre after an hour-long performance and cannot describe any lighting change, because light was a natural part of the show.
The other principle is to maximize visualization, confirm and highlight every moment happening on the stage.
In Prague we have one joke about lighting. When there is a water fountain on stage, then the light is green. When there is a devil, the light is red. Even with this concept you can get into complications. For example, if in the same performance there is a devil in one scene and Little Red Riding Hood in another one. Then you are lost and the audience too.
On the other hand, I have great experiences in co-operating on improvisations with jaro viňarský during the show Butticula – Figures of a Fool, or with dance formations of Crew Collective and Prague Improvisation Orchestra. In the second case it is interesting how musicians and dancers are able to create their own material directly on the stage, but as a lighting designer you often have to come to the theatre one day before the performance to prepare your instruments, just like musicians are tuning their instruments or dancers are warming up before the show.

Can you imagine a performance only with lights? If yes, under what circumstances?
Of course! I personally see plenty of this kind of shows per day. Sometimes they are happening on the streets, in interiors, or in nature. A light show is happening everywhere, even when we think that we are in darkness!
I know that there is a strong community of theatre technicians in the Slovenian capital, just like in Prague, and they decided to create a theatre performance without actors. I had the opportunity to see just one recording of this show and nothing seemed to be missing. The stage is full of props; there is original music; lights and also video projection are there, but a live actor you cannot find.
Look at contemporary trends! European cities are presenting one light festival after other one. People probably hardly ever see the beauties of architecture in their towns during normal days, but during the festivals they see these buildings revived by light. I have realized, since it happened many times, that during a live concert I didn’t have a chance to be focused on music neither to see the leader of the band, because of too many lighting effects.
All the time there are experiments of visual (light) art happening in contemporary theatre, where the actor is a tool for fulfilling an artistic concept. As an interesting example, I can point out the experimental company Quadrotor Design & Developmnent and their project Meet Your Creator – Quadrotor Show (Lighting show in the space of a theatre – black box, year 2012). I mean, why not?

In one of your theatre projects you talk about The Technicians. Why is their and the light designer's role so hidden in such performances? To keep the illusion?
First of all, it was a concept of a performance. For a long time I have been fascinated by a situation in theatre – on the stage. After the show, there is a strange emptiness. Just a few hours before the show it is a busy place, everybody is in movement, usually... After the performance, technicians are putting the space back into regular conditions, how it was set up before, but something is still „hanging” in the space. My main idea was an experiment, to show to the audience what is happening in theatre, in this „sacred space”, after the last spectator left. Our show started with end of one other show. The audience entered the space where on stage there was an actor dying, accompanied by dramatic music. Our task was to say a few jokes and clean the stage.
We did not want to provide any fundamental thought to the world. We just wanted to point on one trade. When there are movies or theatre plays about F1 racers, climbers or politicians, why not about light technicians?

During a two-day-long workshop, what can you teach in theory, just as in technique? For example, what kind of basic elements should be seen by the performer/audience in lightning?
The profession of the light technician or light designer contains many aspects and two days are not enough to transmit what I personally consider as important or what I like.
First of all I will try to explain which basic lighting sources we do use in theatre. I consider that as important to know, just like for example a painter knows his brushes, pencils or paints. As the painter is able to see or find in the countryside his own art pieces or to compose his own installations, we will try to learn how to see our own lighting lands or installations. When we will find a way to see it, then we will try to describe what we see. It is difficult to describe such a non-material element like a beam of light and all the emotions and feelings, which it should evoke. When you are able to describe emotions, which are contained in a beam of light, which shines from somewhere and falls on something, then you can repeat this situation also for example in theatre. This is the work of a light designer.

You are working as a light technician during jaro viňarský's piece The Last Step Before. This solo is based on the very close relation between the performer on the stage and light design. Is this a collaboration in which we can understand one concept (dance) in the context of another (light)?
I have to mention that I am not the original light designer of the performance The Last Step Before. The author of the lighting idea is Pavel Kotlík in cooperation with jaro viňarský. Together they have created this unbelievable performance. This is one from a few performances, where the creators reached a unique symbiosis between the action on stage and lighting design. Both elements of the show cannot work without the other one. There were many people, not just technicians, but also dancers, who were lighting this show. I have to say, that this is just only one show when I am sitting behind the lighting console, but I feel like I am dancing a duet with jaro.
(English translation: Katarína Ďuricová)

KÖM by L1 Association

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