Paper title: LX ludens – after all, it’s just the play of light
Abstract: “Can anyone on the stage tell us what is Light? Whence it comes from – what its power – NO”
So asked (and as usual answered) Gordon Craig in his Daybook in 1910. We might extend this radical question to additionally ask: does light “play”? And if so, does that play have rules? If so, where do the rules come from – the lighting designer? The technologist? Or are they, perhaps, the rules of the observer? How might the vision and the aesthetics of the observer determine the rules of the play of light? My paper will look at some of the cultural assumptions, conceptions and pre-conceptions of the observers of light. Once events have happened, any competent historian can make them seem inevitable and true (and of course I will try to do just that!), but can observations about the past help us to appreciate the game(s) and play(s) of light(s) in a world of post-truth?
Biog: Christopher Baugh is Emeritus Professor of Performance and Technology at the University of Leeds. As scenographer he has worked in the USA, Bristol, Manchester, London, and Dublin. He has written extensively on the history of scenography and stage technologies in Garrick and Loutherbourg (1990), ‘Stage design from Loutherbourg to Poel’ in Donohue, J (ed.) The Cambridge History of British Theatre (2004); ‘Philippe de Loutherbourg: technology-driven entertainment and spectacle in the late eighteenth century’ in the Huntington Library Quarterly (2007); ‘Scenography and technology 1737-1843’ in Moody, J & O’Quinn, D (eds.) The Cambridge Companion to British Theatre, 1737-1843 (2007); and, ‘Shakespeare and the rhetoric of scenography 1770-1825’, in Carson, C & Dymkowski, C (eds.) Shakespeare in Stages (2010). ‘Brecht and Stage Design: the Bühnenbildner and the Bühnenbauer’ (Cambridge, 1994 & 2006), and the second edition (Palgrave, 2013) of Theatre, Performance and Technology: The Development and Transformation of Scenography. In 1975 he was one of the founding members of the SBTD (Society of British Theatre Designers).