Lighting Life and Death
Itai Erdal uses theatre to confront a hideous process
by Beat Rice
What makes a good piece of theatre? Conventionally, a strong script and storyline, actors who move and sound well, design elements that come together cohesively, and a director who pulls it all together.
How To Disappear Completely redefines what an actor is and what theatre is; it is simply Itai Erdal telling the story of a part of his and his mother's life. You do not need to be a trained actor to be a compelling storyteller, you do not have to know movement, technique, or be able to sing or dance. You can be yourself, talk about yourself, and tell a story that’s close and important to you. Sounds easy right? We all know not everybody can do that successfully. But lighting designer Erdal can and does. Here is an artist who is not an actor and who tells a very personal story the core of which focuses on his mother’s struggle with cancer, and how he was there with her until the end. It sounds like the gist of many cancer patient stories but trust me, it is not.
We meet his sister in an interview he conducted and filmed. Projected on a screen onstage are video interviews he filmed of close friends and family, of him and his mother. There is no set, only a few fixtures on booms and bases, which he can move around.
Itai Erdal is a lighting designer. He tells us right away, and throughout the show we see him as a lighting designer, speaking about different fixtures and looks they can create as well as running cues manually off a tiny board he carries onstage. He makes us conscious of lighting and brings our attention to the wonders it can create. Erdal observes that with lighting you can ignore logic.
The piece is funny, touching, honest, intimate, and most of all, brave. Erdal truly opened up to a dark room full of strangers. How can one not admire that?