The Washington Post Sunday - - THEATER -

Things look grim for Or­gon and his clan: Tartuffe is tak­ing over. Dark­ness falls. The door is seen fully closed, with light bounc­ing off its sil­very sur­face.

“The color and di­rec­tion are chang­ing from the top win­dows,” Ser­rand says. “It’s get­ting to be more peachy-or­ange, and more di­ag­o­nal. The sun is set­ting. It’s go­ing more di­rectly across. It’s very flat.” He points to light­ing in­stru­ments hung very low, un­der the bal­cony in Har­man Hall, pro­ject­ing nearly hor­i­zon­tal beams.

“In a way,” Ser­rand says, “it’s more like a film­ing ap­proach, where the light helps us frame in a cin­e­matic way. It can be a static scene, but the en­tire look of it is chang­ing.”

The cre­ators did al­low a few ex­cep­tions to this strict day­light pat­tern. “What is the fun of rules if you’re not go­ing to break them once in a while?” Dil­liard rea­sons.

Now and then they use foot­lights — very stagey, but also a tool Molière would have used (can­dle-pow­ered, of course). There’s also a sur­prise at the end that they don’t want to spoil but that Dil­liard says in­di­cates a psy­cho­log­i­cal melt­down.

Mostly, though, they stuck to their guns. Re­hears­ing the show at Je­une Lune, Dil­liard oc­ca­sion­ally bumped lights into more con­ven­tional pat­terns when he though Ser­rand wasn’t look­ing. Ser­rand no­ticed: “He’d say, ‘You’re cheat­ing.’ ”

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