Human Rites

Premiere performance, Studio Theatre, Virginia Tech (April 2003)

Lighting Designer

Being Born (photo courtesy of Collegiate Times)

Human Rites was an original piece by Emsa Lakovic and members of the Virginia Tech Theatre Ensemble. The 45 minute, silent movement piece was developed during the rehearsal periods as the ensemble members discussed what it meant to be human and then developed scenes around these ideas.

The characters are simple. The abstract ideas of Hope, Death, Evil Thoughts, and Life are personified. The rest of the characters are the people affected by these forces.

The plot consists of three Life Circles, each beginning with Life dispensing human destinies and ending with the human populace dying in some way. Each Life Circle shows an increasingly hopeless life, until finally the people give up and leave the world to the evils of government.

Pattern and color were vital elements in the lighting of Human Rites because the worlds of the people and the Entities (Death, Hope, and Life) needed to be distinct, yet still relate to each other. Since the piece was devoid of dialogue and focused on performer movement rather than dialogue and a traditional plot, sculpture and modeling also became important elements in the design.

The movement style of Human Rites was based on Buto, a traditional Japanese theatrical and dance form. The colors of the costume design came from 11th and 12th century Japanese costume, and these elements found their way into the lighting and set designs as well. Each costume's color was based on one of the four ancient elements: earth, air, fire, and water. These colors became the elements that tied the two worlds together in the lighting design. The world of the Entities was intensely colorful, while the human world was as devoid of color as it was of hope, except in some of the more emotionally intense moments of the piece. As an Entity gained more influence over the human world, their color was more prominently felt.

The goal of the lighting design was to create a world that could be any time, any place in human history without sacrificing the beauty and emotion of the performers' movement.




Love Dance


Lighting Design: Cathy Bowren

Costume Design: Janette Hutt

Scenic Design: Lisa Johnson

Director: Emsa Lakovic

Concept Sketches

Color Palette

CAD Drawings



Click for Larger Picture
Death overlooks the human populace


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Cathy L. Darrow
Lighting Design & Stage Management
8301 44th Street, Lyons, IL

Last Updated 7-17-2003