Clair de Luz

Devised live-cinema-theatre

Islington timber yard (1993)

Directed by Pete Brooks

Lighting design by Nigel Edwards

Photography by Hugo Glendinning

The audience entered a fleapit movie theatre through a lobby where a bored usherette took their tickets. The performance was viewed through a gauze screen framed by moving shutters. The usherette fell into the 'film' and we followed her attempts to navigate it's uncanny and grotesque world. Think Rebecca lost in Eraserhead.

Pre-cinema illusion informed the mechanics of this design, as we wanted to reproduce the tropes of cinema on stage. We created panning, tracking and overhead 'shots' as well as cross-fades, using the Victorian illusion Pepper’s Ghost. The iris frame (inspired by the adjustable proscenium of the Electric cinema in Notting hill) was able to suggest zooms and to compose medium close-ups However, the only way I could think of to make an un-mediated-by-machine live close-up was to turn the entire theatre into a pin-hole camera.

“The whole experience was truly, celestial […] Clair de Luz was like a film but acted live, and all the limits of the theatre had been curtailed by brilliant staging, so that it felt as free as the cinema because walls moved and worlds moved and everything was lit exquisitely. It was amazing. It was spectral…things went from bleak to bleaker, but it was so crammed with ideas and beauty and magic that by the end I had problems remembering how to get home.”

The Observer