The Lily's Revenge, a thesis in four parts: Meet lighting designer Tamara Harris
By Jessi Dimmock | Thursday, April 26, 2018
By Jessi Dimmock
Thursday, April 26, 2018
Our final graduate student spotlight is on Tamara Harris, the lighting designer for The Lily’s Revenge. In previous weeks, interviews with Jen Onopa (the director), Gaven Trinidad (the dramaturg and choreographer) and Christina Beam (the costume designer), have been posted. These interviews cover the work that they each have done so far as well as insight into the plot and background information of The Lily’s Revenge. All four of these graduate students have created their theses around Taylor Mac’s production and have been working tirelessly the entire semester to ensure this show’s success! We talkjed to Tamara before the show's opening; here are her thoughts as she looked ahead:
Tamara Harris illuminates the world of Lily's Revenge
Tamara is “excited about all of [The Lily’s Revenge]”! Between the plot of the show, the opportunities it gives designers, and the community that is being fostered within the Curtain Theater – the rehearsal space for the last two months – Tamara is so pleased to be finishing her UMass experience with Taylor Mac’s show.
Tamara chose The Lily’s Revenge as her thesis project for the same reasons that our other graduate students did: this production is “the most challenging project!”. Furthermore, Tamara was inspired by Jen’s statement of the political relevance of this show: “after the presidential election, [Jen] wanted to work on something that would make a statement and address the bigotry and ‘institutionalized narratives’ being imposed by our society.”
To support that theme through her lighting design, Tamara says that she is “really trying to break outside the rules. I’m looking at all techniques of lighting design and twisting them to form a new genre in respect to Lily’s narrative.” The Lily’s Revenge is purposefully not a conventional play, so Tamara’s design has to support that. Luckily for her, “Taylor Mac created a play that really is a designer’s oyster.”
However, The Lily’s Revenge also presents many challenges. Tamara explained that “this show is different because it [doesn’t have] a linear arc or design.” Because the play moves between multiple different spaces – both traditional theater spaces and nonconventional spaces – Tamara must light all of those spaces distinctly, yet cohesively in regard to the entire show. Furthermore, The Lily’s Revenge encompasses many different genres in its five acts. As a result, Tamara said, “I'm most challenged by making sure I keep each act different while following the arc of Lily's narrative.” Tamara is currently focusing most of her work on showing a complete vision of the world of the play that is present throughout all of the unique acts.
Tamara’s lighting designs so far have existed only on paper. Tamara explained that “lighting is not three dimensional so the team doesn’t see it until [technical rehearsals].” Therefore, she cannot wait to begin her next stage of design: programming the cueing for the show. It is in this stage of design that lighting becomes three dimensional and is incorporated into the world of the show.
Therefore, right now, Tamara is most excited to watch her designs come to life and to watch “what the lighting will do for others in the journey.” She has loved watching the actors bring the characters to life in rehearsals and design runs, and she knows that once lighting is incorporated into the rehearsal room, those characters will only blossom further.
She is also eager to explore how her designs can further the themes of the show. Tamara recognizes that “the play moves from being presentational and divided – between the performers and the audience – to being more inclusive.” Thus, she will experiment with how the lighting evolves throughout the show and how she can use lighting to include the audience in the story.
Like the other MFA candidates so far, Tamara knows that “The Lily’s Revenge [is] going to be a monster.” However, she also sees that “the four [graduate students] are right for the team. We all have our own passions and [are] connected to the play in our own way.” Regardless of the challenges that await the team in tech, Tamara knows that “we [will] have fun and make it the best show we [can].”