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We are a group of friends/parents that run a not-for-profit cultural association in Spain.
This is our (bilingual!) blog about our theatre workshops for kids...

sábado, 12 de noviembre de 2011

using black light

Fluorescent makeup used for artistic effect.Image via WikipediaWe have been toying with the idea of using black light in one of our workshops for a while now. It seems the perfect technique for working with kids - dramatic, magical and instantly effective - and this summer we decided the time had come. The script we had prepared centred on a power struggle between the ghost of a grumpy viscount (a traditional, old school spook) and his more dynamic, equally deceased descendents (the kids). They are all under a curse which they spend the duration of the play trying to break, first with traditional haunting methods (the Viscount's idea) and then, when that doesn't work, with music and dancing (the modern ghosts' way). The climatic haunting scene where the ghosts use every traditional trick in the book (thunder, lightening, skeletons, ghosts, bats, chiming clocks....) to try and break the spell seemed ideal for black light. What better way to portray flying ghosts, disappearing skeletons, glow-in-the-dark eyes?!

After scouring the internet and drawing on our experiences during the workshop this summer, here's a brief summary of what we learnt, in case it is of use:

  • black disappears and fluorescente colours are heightened under the ultraviolet light so hide anything you don't want to see under blackBlack Light PeaceImage by mtsofan via Flickr
  • a black background is crucial (but you can get away with the ceiling and floor if necessary)
  • all possible light sources must be blocked out (the better the black out, the more effective the black light will be)
  • we used 3 x 1.2m tube lights for a stage 10m x 7m which we hung in front and near the ceiling. We added a 4th tube half way back and hung from the ceiling to highlight the action at the back but it wasn't vital.
  • the actors need to wear black from head to toe, covering their heads with black stockings, hoods or a balaclava
 There is no denying that you do need to fiddle around about with this medium. Not everything works first time so you do need to invest a bit of time in getting the feel of it. That said, we had great fun experimenting with black light during the workshop and the enthusiasm of the kids that took part (and the reaction of the audience!) made it well worth it. The effect is so dramatic!

In terms of using black light with kids, we found that:
  • it is a highly motivating medium because it is immediately attractive to young people and the results are stunning with relatively little effort/experience.
  • it is a great tool for overcoming shyness and stage fright because of the anonymity the darkness provides.
  • it's highly creative because it is so flexible.
  • it is effective even with mixed age ranges as tasks can be as simple or complex as necessary.
 A few final thoughts:
    Fluorescent MineralsImage via Wikipedia
  •  Experiment with the materials: fluorescent colours generally react really well but not everything works. There is no doubt some science behind this but we went down the trial-and-error route! Normal white printer paper works really well, for example, as do some makes of white gloss paint (but only some!)
  • When working with younger children, minimize movement (or have them sitting on the floor) as it is so dark. If any of them are not keen to wear something over their faces, get them to hold up painted cardboard props in front of their faces.
  • Make things/people appear and disappear using black cloth or painted boxes to hide/reveal. Paint the back of props black and turn to make them vanish....
A very big thank you to everyone who chipped in with their penny's worth in those early stages when we were desperate for information... and not finding much! An especially big thank you to Alan Bell at ArcheDream for Humankind who went out of his way to help a bunch of complete (cyber) strangers!

Got any experience working with black light? We'd love to hear about it!

    1 comentario:

    1. Have never used it before but I may give it a go! It doesn't sound that hard???


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