There is no doubt that color plays a major part in our daily routine – from the clothes we pick out in the morning to the traffic lights we use to get to and from work. From the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep, color affects how we live our lives consciously and subconsciously. It alters the way we perceive the world, and it can change our mood and how we feel about our surroundings. While color has the ability to affect people differently on a psychological and physiological level, it can, at the same time, unite a group nationally or culturally. We perceive color based on where and how we were raised. For instance, the color red has multiple meanings in the western world – it can represent danger, passion, anger and excitement. While in Russia it’s linked to communism; in South Africa it is a color worn at a time of mourning; in China and India it’s used in wedding ceremonies. These are basic examples of color being a unifying aspect for a culture as a whole, but if you look at a single individual and their personal relationship or lack thereof with a particular color the entire situation changes. It cannot be assumed or at least it should not be assumed that red will make me feel the same way as my neighbor or even saying the word red will inspire the same mental picture and associations provided by that color.
Scientists, writers, theorists, visual artists and countless other professionals have utilized their specific fields to explore and understand the concept of color; how humans perceive it, how it affects us physically and emotionally, and how we relate to it culturally are only a few examples of how and why we study color. This thesis will explore the process behind developing a design aesthetic that relies on the clarity within the color story of a production that will evoke strong emotional associations within an audience.
There will be three main sections to my thesis presentation inside the Lane-Comley Studio 210. In the first section, I will explore how creating a space based on a clear personal reaction to an emotion through color can lead a viewer to have a strong reaction of his own. The second section will deal with the discovery of a color story within a scene that allows for prominent emotional moments to be clearly viewed. With the third section, I will be exploring the relationship between the performer and colored light, and how the clarity or lack thereof that goes into a design can translate into an artistic emotional response.
The discoveries that have taken place and that will continue to take place throughout this process will help me further my understanding that there is simply no way to affect everyone emotionally in the exact same way. The search for the perfect formula on how to light a piece of theatre so it produces a universal shared feeling seems to go against our nature as humans. We are not clones of each other, and that’s what makes us so fascinating. If we all felt the same way all the time then what’s the point? Conversation would cease to exist because there would be no conflict, no argument. Without conflict, life could not be mirrored on the stage. We do what we do as theatre artists to tell a story, to invite the audience to sit back, relax, and take in everything as they experience it. If one person feels emotionally moved by a piece of my work more so then another person, then my work is a success. It will spur conversation and life will move on with everyone feeling and thinking whatever he or she wants. I do not seek to change the world with this exploration, but to further my own personal understanding of how certain colors affect us as humans in an emotional context. There is no right or wrong answer in this case. The answers can be infinite and ever-changing, and that is what makes the study of color and human response exciting.