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For A New Theatre: "Electric-Vibrating-Luminous"

by Mauro Montalti
1920

The Electric-Vibrating-Luminous Theatre will express what the new form of art proposes to do. This theatre will translate and simplify previous concepts of art. In this theatre, the message will be understood and perceived by everyone. The artist will convey its message through light, aesthetics, and vibrations. The stage is dark and the backdrop contains groups of electric lamps varying in color and tone. The theatre is completely electric conveying its message in shapes of light and color.


For a New Theatre: "Electric-Vibrating-Luminous"

Brief, elementary hints and a small practical example of Electric-Vibrating-Luminous Theatre will serve to give to youth a concept of what the new form of art wishes to be and what it proposes to do.

It does not wish to throw away completely the other innovating schools, but it searches only to translate and simplify, in coloured and luminous vibrations, concepts of art that have already been treated by other techniques (theatre-music-painting-poetry-etc.).

Not all men, in fact, have their own sensitivity equitably distributed in the five senses, so that they indifferently perceive a work of art that the artist created according to his own ability. For example, since not all men completely perceive a dramatic-auditory action with characters on stage, the Electric-Vibrating-Luminous Theatre translates the same dramatic conception, with its equivalent emotional power, in such a way that the deaf can also perceive the different cerebral vibrations that gave rise to the dramatic concept.

However, one must deduce from this that the Electric-Vibrating-Luminous Theatre is only the primary formula of a work of art, the synthetic-symptomatic and aesthetic exposition of a pure work, free from frivolous technical means of expression.

But, since there is no art if there is no creation, and the Electric-Vibrating-Luminous Theatre wishes to be art it later will be able to attain a superior state of technical proficiency, to create dramas, musical symphonies, symbolic dances, etc., for this new form of ultradynamic art. This new art form, if well felt by the artist, will offer him a new way to express his own sensibility and his own thoughts, by means of luminous, aesthetic, and clear vibrations.

The stage looks like an enormous dark chamber of a camera, that is to say, a floor, backdrop, ceiling, and lateral faces of black planes (of board or velvet) hermetically welded together.

The backcloth, which constitutes the scenery and which we shall call "sensitive darkness," is formed from myriads of electric lamps of every colour and tonality. The studied distribution of colours and the studied distribution of electrical currents comprise the subject and treatment of the work. Behind the backcloth an electrical cylinder switch works, which, acting like a phonograph cylinder, lights up now one, now another, zone of the sensitive darkness.

It is well to bear in mind that the Electric Theatre, being eminently dynamic and based on colour and movement, does not allow its luminous vibrations to be geometric expressions like triangles, squares, trapezoids, etc., etc. Instead, they are light-points, nebulas, straight segments, curves, parabolas, hyperbolas, helicoids, ellipses, ellipsoids, spirals, circles, concentrics, eccentrics, ovals, etc.

To summarise with a brief example, we condense the third act of The Life of Man by Leonid Andreyev. To be precise, the "ball".

First Scene. A red curtain rises. The sensitive darkness is covered by a nebula of points of every colour, paired two by two, which turn with a rotating and revolving motion. They criss-cross one another.

Tonality: Reds, greens, yellows, dark blues, etc. etc., with a cold tonality predominant.

At Left: Almost lost in the sensitive darkness "He" stands immobile, represented by a row of yellowish lights in the form of an S, in the middle of which a tuft of "bluish-red" trembles.

At Right: In a corner at the back "three boring and monotonous musicians" are expressed by three verticals of a very gloomy violet in three different sizes, as in Indian file. The three verticals light up and darken rhythmically and gradually, controlled by the electrical current. For the entire duration of the act they continue their vibro-luminous sound at the same tempo.

The ball lights up. It is formed by swift spirals of every colour that turn in all directions. Several lights move automatically between the dancing couples. They form small nebulas of blue and red lights that quickly break up in all directions.

Coloured merrymaking. Now and then, the sensitive darkness freezes the multicoloured expressions for several seconds and only the three musicians operate dimly.

At other times a determined image curves quickly and deliberately toward the right for a moment before returning to the ball.

Second Scene. The sensitive darkness finishes with the coloured expression. From the right a deep orange splash expands and distends itself until it totally covers the surface of the sensitive darkness. Then a second of darkness. Then again two luminous beams of light come from the right. Golden lights stop at the head of Man and Woman. Behind is a retinue of Friends and Enemies.

The Friends are expressed by a tonality of red and dark-blue lights that move rhythmically and straight ahead. The Enemies are expressed by a yellow and green tonality and proceed to cast off small arcs of circles in a zigzag manner.

On each side of the two beams the dancers, with uniform and equal movement, separate and come together, expressing solemn curtsies. Whisper of lights. Comments of colour. The three musicians play just as in the first scene.

Third Scene. The two luminous processions collect on the left at the back and come down bowing. The dancers move and slowly seek each other, grouping themselves by colour and by tone. Nebulas of reds, yellows, greens, purples, violets, browns, whites, etc. etc. Then, in small dancing groups they disappear to the right. Only a very yellowish yellow (other than He and the musicians) remains on the sensitive darkness. It makes a turn on the floor, pirouettes, and then disappears to the right.

Last Scene. Darkness, except that the left is occupied by He, who is immobile, and the right corner is occupied by the three musicians, who are still playing. Slowly the three musicians creep to the middle of the sensitive darkness. They meet in the centre and enlarge proportionately until the tallest occupies the entire height of the backcloth. Thus they continue to play, greatly slackening the tempo.

He rapidly crosses the stage and stands immobile on the left. His bluish-red tuft in the centre diminishes to three-fourths its original height and pauses, flickering.

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