Inspired by the liturgy of Tenebrae — the church ritual in which lights are gradually extinguished and the building recedes into darkness — a team of artists will fill the theatre with sound and light, inviting small groups of visitors to experience a haunting descent into darkness. The soundscape will include the work of 15 local writers whose voices will speak of some of the myriad ways in which we’ve all been living with the lights going out over the past challenging year.
The theatre will open at dawn, and stay open all day. Then, at sunset, the theatre will be filled with a uniquely staged performance of Couperin’s haunting Leçons de ténèbres, a sublime setting of the Tenebrae ritual in which two soprano voices search for hope amidst the gathering shadows. As night falls across Brighton, the soaring sound of beauty, anguish and defiance will bear witness to the fact that even in darkness, some kinds of light never go out.
Tenebrae: Lessons Learnt in Darkness is a Brighton Festival Commission created by Neil Bartlett (Creator and Director), Paule Constatble (Creator and Lighting Designer), Isabelle Haile (soprano), Rosaleigh Harvey-Otway (Film-maker and Digital Producer), Reiko Ichise (Viola da gamba, Joseph McHardy (Musical director), Akila Richards (community writing Co-Curator) Christopher Shutt (creator and sound designer).
The fifteen writers who are contributing are: Maria Amidu, Jenny Arach, Sheila Auguste, Yvonne Canham-Spence, Helen Dixon, Josephine Hall, Sam Kenyon Hamp, Oluwafemi Hughes-Jonas, Joseph Lee, Simon Maddrell, Lucie Naish, Georgina Parke, Mark Price, Zaid S.Sethi, Sea Sharp.
A series of fifteen short graphic films capturing words and sounds from the installation will be available here and via our social media channels from Saturday 8 to Saturday 22 May.