“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.”