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Contemporary Research in Performance Light: Experience, Creativity, Meaning



A selection of rocking chairs in a room surrounded by hanging lights and wall lights in a warm glow.

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Light and its material qualities are an essential, although frequently overlooked, component of all experiences of performance. We see through light, we witness the effects of light, and we feel light – it conditions our moods and directly affects our behaviour – and yet light is, "paradoxically, an immaterial material; its materiality is obtained by proxy, by coming into contact with an object in space." (Graham et al. 2023 p21)

It is perhaps surprising then that Light has been a largely overlooked element of theatrical scholarship and for a long time not seen as worthy of critical attention.

Scott Palmer (Leeds), Kelli Zezulka (Salford) and Katherine Graham (York) have been involved in a six-year collaboration that has brought together academics and professional practitioners in the UK and internationally to explore contemporary issues in light for performance. This has resulted in public symposia, an edited volume published by Bloomsbury Methuen, and a special issue 'On Light' currently in preparation for the international Journal of Theatre and Performance Design, published by Routledge.

This public seminar celebrates a significant period of collaborative research and the publication of the volume Contemporary Performance Lighting: Experience, Creativity, and Meaning and offers three distinct individual perspectives on light in performance.