Edinburgh Fringe 2011
"A luminarium is a sculpture people enter to be moved to a sense of wonder at the beauty of light and colour". So say the Architects of Air who have brought something unique to the Fringe – a light sculpture we walk through in Assembly Gardens.
This isn’t theatre. Or is it? As we enter the Luminarium we are told that all of the light is created naturally – no electricity is used! Walking through a series of tunnels and spaces, with soft music playing somewhere in the background, the mood is both calming and encouraging a sense of play and exploration at the same time.
The children love it and, though most would like to use it as a bouncy castle, the space itself, and the sense of solemn wonder it creates, holds those instincts mostly back, and even the wildest children tend towards respecting the space. There’s a cathedral-like dome space that mixes several colours, many tunnels to wander and wonder through. Often it feels as if we wander through parts of the human body, at one times, it feels like a futuristic space. There are smaller and larger spaces in which we are invited to rest or even take an afternoon nap. This is a space to enjoy, a place to leave outside agendas well… outside. My only quibble was that the introduction at the beginning should either have been less, leaving us to discover it for ourselves completely, or whould have been offered with more enthusiasm. It can be hard to herd thousands of people through something, but this start of the journey needs to reflect the magic of it more.
This is something of itself on the Fringe. It also has a remarkable simplicity. Once inside, you’ll experience the power of both richness in simplicity. The designers have put their faith in simple forms, in the value for the human soul of natural light and the colours it can create, not just on our eyes, but also in our inner landscape. Inner and outer connect here and the space itself has archetypal qualities, hinting at journey, at rest, at roundedness, at flight, and at creativity.
And therein lies the clever theatre aspect. The Luminarium is theatre, and the people inside create their own little pockets of drama – for themselves and those who encounter them. The children find it easiest, becoming explorers. I encounter to adults in a still embrace, others are sleeping or lying relaxing and, in more than a few cases, their gesture is "Look at me, look at what I am doing – I am lying down in public and I never do that!"
The light really does feel unique and the sense of wonder is a drama in itself, and ultimately there’s a narrative as well. For we travel through this space, through time, and emerge, more or less affected by it.
I strongly recommend you step through Mirazozo before you leave Edinburgh.