Who's Afraid of the Dark?

By Eddy, Michael S. | Stage Directions, November 2012 | Go to article overview

Who's Afraid of the Dark?


Eddy, Michael S., Stage Directions


No light doesn't mean no design in Odyssey Theatre Ensemble's presentation of Theatre in the Dark

The Los Angeles, Cailf .-based Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, never a company to shy away from a challenge in its four decades of well-received work, is offering audiences a true sensory experience with their premiere of Theatre in the Dark. The production is a collection of pieces that are presented almost exclusively in the dark. The audience is in the dark, the actors are in the dark - in fact, the entire 90-minute production will be done in a completely blacked out theatre with the exception of a few small lighting cues to punctuate or underscore a scene. The complete show experience consists of two separate evenings, Dark, which opened on October 20, and More Dark, which opens on November 3. They will run in repertory through December 16 at the West Los Angeles Odyssey Theatre.

The two-evening program has 12 actors, nine directors, and a combination of playwrights and authors. Each evening consists of 12-15 short pieces in a 90-minute production with no intermission, so the audience would not need to re-acclimate to the dark. There are selections, adapted for the dark, from previously published work by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Edgar Allen Poe, Danny Robins and Dan Tetsell, William Shakespeare and Matei Vi§niec; along with new, ensemble-devised pieces developed as part of the rehearsal process. The ensemble sourced materials from three sources - plays, traditional literature and commissioned writers. There is one piece by a blind playwright who wrote about the experience of losing his sight and, when coming out of the hospital, his terror at all of the sounds of traffic and people around him that he can no longer see.

Grid, No Lighting

Producing an evening of theatre in the dark isn't new but it is rare, especially in the United States. Odyssey's artistic director, Ron Sossi, comments that this has been done in the UK very successfully. "This idea had been done a few years ago at the Battersea Art Centre as a part of the London Fringe Festival and their audiences ate it up," he says. "They even produced a whole season in the dark. Though we are doing different plays and material from what they presented, we did speak with them about how it worked for them and they gave us some technical advice along with things to consider."

Some may liken this production to radio plays, but as Sossi points out, "With radio, we sit in the light while we listen. What will it be like to sit in the dark, together with the actors and 98 other audience members? It's a fascinating experiment for everyone involved. How do we create theatre without our eyes, using only imagination?" The ensemble is playing with voices, music and sounds as well as changing the spatial and aural perspectives in shaping the works. They have found that a piece like Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart plays one way when done in the light, but in the dark it's more intimate and makes the audience much more apprehensive.

As the materials were developed, the production team started to work on the mechanics of moving around the space, and while there is no traditional set, the actors do need to navigate the stage. They also needed to learn to deal with props and live sound effects while in the dark. Technical director Joe Behm worked closely with set designer Simon Schabert on how to deal with safe and efficient actor movement. "Simon and I worked out a system with a rope grid that the actors could use in rehearsal," explains Behm. "We were then going to create a much more elaborate structure for the production, but the rope method has proven to be practical for the show itself."

The rope grid mounts at six feet off the deck; one inch higher than the tallest actor, yet within easy reach for shorter actors to still use. The flat-floor playing space is 24 feet deep and 38 feet wide. "We have a system of three ropes that go wall to wall from left to right and seven that run upstage to downstage," Behm comments. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Who's Afraid of the Dark?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.