Jacqueline Sobiszewski


interview - Light attracts me

interview - Light attracts me

Who is a lightning designer and why is this function so important in the theatre? An interview with Jacqueline Sobiszewski, the lightning designer in numerous productions by Grzegorz Jarzyna and Agnieszka Glińska. 

Her two important projects can be seen this week on the stages in Warsaw – “T.E.O.R.E.M.A.T”directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna in TR Warszawa at the weekend and “ The Seagull” directed by Agnieszka Glińska in the National Theatre from now on till Sunday. Jacqueline Sobiszewski also designed the lightening for “No matter how hard we tried” in TR Warszawa, “Faithless” directed by Artur Urbański in TR Warszawa, “Kasimir and Caroline” (directed by Gábor Zsámbéki) in the National Theatre and “The Witches” (directed by Agnieszka Glińska) in the Lalka Theatre. She has recently worked on some projects in Holland, her home country. In Amsterdam, together with Grzegorz Jarzyna, they prepared the premiere of “Phaedra” by Racine. 

Dorota Wyżyńska: Are directors becoming more willing to cooperate with lightning designers? Who is a lighting designer? How would you describe this role in the theatre? 

Jaqueline Sobiszewski: You can say they are kind of camera operators, but in the theatre. On one hand it is a very technical job, but actually it is also artistic. Just as music is an element of the performance, you can also play with the light in the theatre. Today the theatre is becoming more and more inspired by the cinema, performances start to involve visualisations. The rhythm of the story told on the stage can be created not only by music, but also by light. 

Are you particularly sensitive to light? What meaning has light to you?I

t is certainly something very important for me. It attracts me. However, when I pay attention to the light while watching movies or plays, it makes me sad. The light should neither distract nor draw attention. It can not be visible. It can not make the viewer focus on it. I like unusual lighting, but I also feel good when it is just the sun shining. On my travels it always comes to me as a great surprise that every country has its own light. 

What kind of light does Poland have? 

Poland has four beautiful and very different seasons. Some of the colours of the fall are really amazing. In Holland the light is completely different due to the closeness of the sea and many of clouds. 

Why have you left Holland and come to Poland?

I came here to study. And I stayed longer. I lived in many different places, a few years in New York, also in France, I travelled to India many times. I looked for my place in the world. My father told me about the Film School in Lodz. Moving from Holland to Poland took me one month. 

Did you visit Poland when you were a child? 

I came to Poland to visit my grandparents. My mother was born and brought up here. My father, who is of Polish origin, was born in Holland though. He spent his all life there. And now? My parents live in.. Poland. When I came to study in Lodz, my Polish was really bad. I think it is better now (laughing). But what is most important – and I realized it only recently – is that I already think in Polish.

You have graduated from the Film School in Lodz, so why the theatre? 

I had an accident and I could not work as a camera operator anymore. Then Redbad Klijnstra contacted me and asked me to do screening for his production of “Gry” (“Games”) in Wroclaw. Along with…the lightning. I had some doubts at first. But I got into it very quickly. I learned this unusual job by practice.

Did you know Redbad from Holland? 

No, we got to know each other in Poland, my parents told me about him, they say we knew each other when we were children. It was nice to meet somebody in Poland with whom you could speak Dutch. 

After you had worked for Redbad Klijnstra, you got some more offers, from Agnieszka Glińska, and then finally from Grzegorz Jarzyna. You had the luck of meeting brilliant directors. 

It is true. 

Are they very different from each other at work? 

They are different, yet similar. They use different theatre jargon, but what they have in common are the emotions they put into their job, they are not afraid to get lost, to search. It is not a technical approach. For me it is also very important. It is because I work rather intuitively. I need some time to understand, to feel the theme. 

So you need time. And it may seem that a lightening designer comes to the rehearsals a week before the premiere and only then do they start to set the lightning. How is it in your case? 

If the director thinks that I come to the last rehearsal and they will tell me: “Do something beautiful” and it will work, they could not be more wrong. I often attend rehearsals from the very beginning. Of course I can come two weeks before the premiere and start the preparations. I need time to understand the script, to follow the director’s interpretation. Often my first step at work is completely intuitive and I give it up after some time. I need the whole process. 

Do you keep an eye on your performances after the premiere? 

Certainly, I am very precise in that matter. But “my” directors accept it in me. Agnieszka Glińska often asks me to take a look at the performance. Sometimes even when I watch a performance after a year, I still can not stop myself from correcting something that got wrong on the way. It is important. 

Your other passion is photography. You are the author of many photos featured in the album dedicated to the theatre works of Grzegorz Jarzyna. 

I like to photograph the theatre of Grzegorz, but I really have not taken that many theatre photos. When I work on the lightening, it is the only thing I focus on. Most of my theatre photos have been taken in the field. When we were staging “Macbeth” in New York and preparing for the open air show, I could not stop myself from taking a lot of pictures. At that time, in the open air, you could set the lightening only by night. I had plenty of time for taking photos during the day. I have been photographing for years, it is mainly documentary and artistic photography. I also accept fashion session offers, I have just come back from Los Angeles, where I photographed the new range of Universal Clothing Company, a brand which is becoming more and more popular in the US and Great Britain. I have published my pictures in many magazines, I also do posters and photos for book covers. The photo session for the poster of “The Seagull”, directed by Agnieszka Glińska, gave me a lot of satisfaction. I am planning a big exhibition of my photos in TR Warszawa in the middle of April, as a fringe event to the Photomonth in Cracow. 

Source: Gazeta Wyborcza Stołeczna