Lucian Moga, Light Designer: The Lights Show the Stage

For a show to premiere at the theatre it requires more than actors. Light is one of the most fundamental elements for creating a show. That is why I sat down with lights specialist and designer Lucian Moga.

He started working in theatre by total coincidence. His first profession was as a geological engineer. Some friends who worked at the theatre convinced him to take a job there. His geologist friends considered him a little bit of “an idiot.” But he was “quite blurry” on what he wanted to do. Therefore he started off working at the theatre as a technical director, a time during which he studied and was naive enough to want everything to be perfect, in order for people not to see that he was coming from another work field. He learned about “the stage, the technical side of the stage, the relationship with the actors, the discipline of the stage” which all helped him a lot further ahead. After five years he was proposed to take on the lights system which had a digital control and programmable lights – the first in the country at the time at the Classical Theatre “Ioan Slavici” in Arad. No one knew how to use them. “It was a challenge,” he says. Since then he hasn’t changed his profession.

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“Theatre means… light”

Even if he says that the word “exact” is far from what he would use to characterise his job, Lucian defines is as “putting concretely in light – certain things, stories, events.” “Why am I saying that ‘exact’ has nothing to do here is because intuition, or inspiration – at that certain time, or the desperation – at that certain time, offers you the final solutions. Which can always be improved.”

“If you would work on a show, you could work a lifetime and you’d find new things.”

His job involves “knowing what is happening in the story;” “to see the nuances of the events, relationships;” “the shape of the space; the colours of the space,” “costumes; in order to correlate correctly, even if correctly is not the right word.” “What today seems incorrect, tomorrow can be a revolution.”

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An event from the early days stayed with him. It happened in another theatre, when an older lights specialist saw him about to use some green colour filters and asked him what does green have to do with theatre. “To me it sounded like stupidity. Absolutely anything can be related to theatre if it’s at the right place, at the right time and in the right context; and I will never forget as long as I live: What does the colour green have to do with theatre?”

In order to light up a show, you make a combination of light sources and try to create a world of lights, using intensities, colours and directions, taking into account what you have at your disposal, with the final purpose “to underline what you either suppose or you found what the director aims at, and the scenographer, and actually, the entire team that works at a show – to support or even amplify.”

The lights specialist has to have a cue list made up of situations that you go through according to benchmarks (replica, movement, change in attitude, musical point).

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For Lucian Moga the theatre was a place he was quite unfamiliar with: “before I got into theatre I saw 10 shows tops, from which 4 were required for school” – that was why it was shocking for him as well as others when he started to work there.

Nowadays he has already worked in more theatres in Romania than the ones he hasn’t. He learned to approach differently each job, depending on the person running the project. For example, he worked on 28-29 shows with Alexander Hausvater – a Romanian born Canadian stage director.

Lucian Moga sees the theatre now in a different light, because there are big differences between what he assumed and what’s in theatre. He used “to see it as a temple”, but now he says that things in the theatre aren’t that “holy and good.” He was “convinced that actors are the most intelligent humans”, but now he says that’s not even close. He says that even actors “are people, not gods.”

In the end, “life behind the scenes is very oscillating,” “it is about a family that is created” – and like in every family the relationships are not perfect. But “it is a special world.”

One of the most memorable shows he’s ever worked at was “The Troubadour” at the National Opera in Bucharest, together with Alexander Hausvater. When describing the director, Lucian Moga says

“he is a world alone, a big world”; he is an energetic person, very dynamic, strong and active; a person which “doesn’t get knocked down easily, no matter how obvious the impediments.” Working a lot with Hausvater, Moga said that it hardened him.

During the production of this opera “it was the only time that even Hausvater – that’s why it stayed with me – even he was on the verge of cracking.”

“One night while having a beer after a heavy and ugly rehearsal” Hausvater said, “Lucian, this is not a show, this is a war.” “I can say that it was by far a show that marked me – not ugly, it marked me hard. I mean it consumed a lot. It consumed me as other 20 performances.”

The show turned out great, and a good sign was that there were controversies.

Lucian says that “when everyone agrees with a show, something’s wrong.”

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