The Washington Post Sunday - - THEATER -

“Tartuffe” takes place in the house­hold of Or­gon, a man who has fallen un­der the spell of the tit­u­lar re­li­gious im­pos­tor. In the early mo­ments Dorine, the fam­ily ser­vant, ex­plains this to Or­gon’s brother-in-law, Cleante.

Ser­rand has set this scene in the dark, just be­fore dawn.

“Dorine is sit­ting on the floor with a few can­de­labras,” Ser­rand says. “There’s a light from the oven. Cleante is sit­ting down­stage in a chair, and there’s no light on him. He’s com­pletely in the dark. It’s re­ally strong.”

Dur­ing the scene, dawn breaks, which Doolit­tle says is a slow, two-step process: “First, the win­dows on the stage left side get dim­mer over about two min­utes, and then more dif­fuse day­light starts to come in.” A cue that takes five min­utes al­lows early-morn­ing light to gen­tly steal over the scene.

“The point is that you for­get to look at what’s mov­ing in the light,” Ser­rand says. “The feel changes.”

Again, as the “day” moves, so does the ac­tion. “If it’s a lit­tle late,” Ser­rand says, “per scene, it’s max­i­mum 15 sec­onds, 10 sec­onds. We never vary the rhythm of the show.”

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