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“soft lights for sleepless nights” to debut in Flanagan Theatre

Gregory Garcia
“soft light for sleepless nights” is an original work from theatre professor Craig Quintero. It opens this weekend. Photos by Shabana Gupta.
“soft light for sleepless nights” is an original work from theatre professor Craig Quintero. It opens this weekend. Photos by Shabana Gupta.

Associate Professor Craig Quintero’s originally-devised, image-based piece “soft lights for sleepless nights” makes its debut this week at the Flanagan Theatre.

Quintero stressed that “soft lights” is first and foremost original and experimental, having undergone a series of dramatic revisions during the rehearsal process. “A lot of the work is based on improvisational exercises with the actors, [and] over the rehearsal process, we were able to find the different talents or skills that the ensemble brings to the table and see how that altered the production. So, on the one hand, it’s kind of exciting, because we know that we’re headed somewhere, but we don’t have a set destination. It’s this process of stepping into the unknown.”

Quintero attributes much of the piece’s originality to the talents of the cast as well, saying “I’m very impressed with the ensemble of actors a lot of them have acted in high school and some of them have done some college work where they are given a role, where they are given a character. So, it’s my goal to help them reach a point where they feel confident and comfortable to experiment and try and then try again.”

Jacob Leder ’20, an actor in the production, says that although he had trouble getting used to the idea that his role was subject to change, it eventually became his favorite part of the process. “It was new for me, and reaching a point where we were all comfortable with bouncing ideas off each other, letting go of things when necessary, and supporting each other’s choices was really great,” said Leder.

Malcolm Davis ’21, another member of the cast, echoed this sentiment. “It was extremely fun to see how everyone’s ideas structured what we did and influenced everyone’s roles,” said Davis. The audition for “soft lights” piqued his interest because it posed as a chance for Davis to develop his skills as a performer. Its devised image-based format is a stark departure from typical high school and community theatre, both of which Davis had previously done.

Though the prospect of constructing a completely original work may seem daunting to some, Quintero relishes the challenge of building something wholly unique. “I think that this type of theatre is more like an experimental laboratory, in the same way that in science, you do an experiment because you’re not sure what the conclusion is … We don’t need to repeat the same show that we’ve seen a hundred times. That’s been done, and it works … but I’m more interested in asking new questions and exploring new performer-audience relationships … so that each time we do a show, it’s starting with a question rather than an answer. I think that inverts the whole creative process.”

“Most of the time we go to see theatre, and it’s a very passive activity, and we sit in the theatre and watch a show,” Quintero said. “This is a more engaged process … And it’s the opportunity to not just look at an artwork but to walk through it, to smell it, to taste it, and touch it, and to be engaged fully … I think the show engages all of the senses. You’re not just seeing a work of art, you are a part of it.”

Grinnell community members can immerse themselves in the world of “soft lights for sleepless nights” at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on both Friday, Oct. 12 and Saturday, Oct. 13. Showings will also take place on Sunday, Oct. 14 at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. The production runs 30 minutes, and takes place in the Flanagan Theatre, and is limited to 16 audience members per performance. Tickets are available in the Bucksbaum box office.

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