O Monsters, 2016, presented by New Paradise Laboratories, lighting design by Maria Shaplin. Photo by Steve Legato.
“Lighting has the power to create plasticity in the physical world. We have the ability to alter perception, to metamorphose objects in space.”
Maria Shaplin is a lighting designer who creates immersive theatrical worlds through an experimental and deeply collaborative design process. With acknowledgement of the subtle emotional power of light, Shaplin describes her artistic practice as “a constant investment in human connection, collective catharsis, and revelation.” She is interested in challenging traditional theatrical forms, as seen in her work on MPA: Red In View at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where three performers spent ten days exposed to spectators inside a narrow window vitrine as lighting sequences simulated sped-up sunrises and sunsets and climactic power surges. In We Are Bandits, audiences experienced the technical manipulation of lighting and stage design as part of the live performance. Shaplin is a co-founder of the devised theater collective Applied Mechanics, and she has worked with numerous Philadelphia-area companies, including The Wilma Theater, New Paradise Laboratories, and People’s Light. Shaplin won a 2018 Barrymore Award for Outstanding Lighting Design for her work on Indecent at Arden Theatre Company, and she was awarded an Independence Foundation Fellowship in the Arts in 2015. She holds an MFA in theatrical lighting design from Temple University.