Telling stories with imagination.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Metta likes...Shadow

WarHorse, Oliver Theatre 2007, photography Simon Annand 
Shadows are great - here at Metta we love a bit of moody and dramatic lighting  - and also the (in our opinions) under-exploited medium of shadow puppetry too. Will is always fond of dark lighting (?!) - or perhaps more accurately using shadow/being very directional in his lighting. But the queen of shadowy lighting (who is actually known in the business as 'The queen of darkness') is Paule Constable whose brilliance/darkness can currently be seen in lots of shows (War Horse in town, Danton's Death at the National, the Blasted that just closed at the Lyric, Hammersmith). In a similar vein I like to think of Will as the prince of darkness - not in an evil way! (Also he looks a bit like Paule).

And in terms of shadow puppetry - it's something we've played with a bit in Metta shows - most recently in the Britten Canticles which we staged with puppetry and shadow puppetry back in the spring. Also I've just directed a show whose opening sequence was all silhouette and shadow puppetry (The Prophets and the Puppets for the Theatre503's Coalition festival. And the shadow play in ENO's A Dog's Heart is exquisite. As is the more lo-fi out put from the brilliant Matthew Robins - this weeks featured video on the Metta facebook page - and also the more political (political shadow-puppetry - a rather unlikely pairing) work of Jeremy Bidgood and Pangolin's Teatime with their Great Puppet Horn show.

So what's so great about shadows? Contrast is always attractive - that's what makes good photography good, much of the time (and indeed great drama - we switch off if something is 'all one note'). Shadowy lighting often means very directional and therefore very specific lighting - that is when lighting design truly becomes an art - when it both directs your focus and creates the world for you. So what other shows/companies out there are using light and shadow in imaginative and interesting ways at the moment?

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