Students were treated to a firestorm of visual effects and fast-paced action in the critically acclaimed play, ‘Light’ that was devised and performed by Theatre Ad Infinitum. The innovative piece takes place in near-darkness, with light bars, torches and hand-held bulbs illuminating the scenes. The action took place with no dialogue but accompanied by a punishingly brutal sound-track and the sparse cast’s movements combined split-second precision and raw physicality.
The play’s frantic pace, flash-backs and stunning visuals have been widely praised and, after runs at Edinburgh’s Fringe and in the company’s London heartland, it is now touring, taking its dark immersive dystopia to a wider audience.
Our students had the opportunity to take part in a workshop with the company’s co-artistic director, George Mann and it proved the perfect forerunner for that evening’s performance. He said: ‘I was aiming to share some of our work with the students. With our techniques you have got to do so much physically so the first thing I wanted to share with them was how they bring their bodies to the stage with conviction, honesty and truth and how they tell a story with that body.’
‘Light is about a future with a totalitarian regime based on the idea of controlling people’s thoughts and minds, memories, dreams … everything. Each person is obliged to have a nano-implant in their brain that connects them to cyberspace so it is about mass surveillance and trying to contribute to the debate about what direction society is going in. It is a real cross-disciplinary piece and uses a lot of language gestures. There are just five people in it but I must credit the stage manager because she is cuing 232 screen and sound cues. It took 16 weeks to make and we started playing in Edinburgh last year.
‘We measure everything to the last centimetre which makes it easier for the actors to know where they are in the dark, so wherever we go, the stage remains the same. The sound is the trickiest one because each space has an acoustic dynamic and so our sound designer, Chris, is constantly tweaking and trying to find the right balance in each new location. I was really disturbed by the British history of torture since World War Two and I wanted to comment on it. That is why the soundtrack is a fine balance between unbearable, thrilling and shocking.
Student Jessica Dick said: ‘It was better than any other play I have ever watched. They had only a few props, no actual speech and all the music in it was great. They paid really close attention to all their cues and I really liked the sci-fi and aesthetics of it. In the darkness there was nowhere else to look, it was mesmerising.’
Teacher Mrs Duguid-Yeomans said: ‘It was very minimalist with a black box setting and lights and it was so effective because your brain fills in the gaps as it is far more powerful and epic than a set designer can be. I saw it first in Edinburgh so when I found out that Light was coming to Corby, I immediately reserved seats because it is a play that every student with an interest in Performing Arts should experience.
‘It gave our students a perfect opportunity to see physical theatre, facial expression, emotion and tension in an innovative format. The techniques we saw and experienced will underpin our practical and written work so it was just perfect for GCSE students. The workshop was brilliant. George spoke to them about being generous with energy and time and he pushed them to achieve more. They started off with running activities to build energy, to get them moving and to think about the space within the room and between each other. He spoke about how the audience are absorbed into the gap between people on stage, which we saw in Light. It was such a wonderfully well-rounded experience.
'There is nothing better than seeing live shows and this was a truly exemplar piece of performance that anyone with an interest in dance, drama or performing arts should have watched as it is original, phenomenal and must be experienced first-hand to be fully appreciated.’