The Playgoer: Project!

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011


The past decade may be noted in future theatre histories as the period video projection went mainstream in stage design. Theatermania's Solange de Santis profiles its use in current hits The Normal Heart and War Horse on Broadway.

Whatever the marvels and/or annoyances of projection are aesthetically, let's not understate the economic factor in the technology's rise. As physical scenery has become an increasingly expensive liability (especially when touring) we have already seen lighting and sound become more and more sophisticated in creating virtual "scenery" by suggestion. (The rise of innovative lighting and sound design in low-budget theatre is an untold success story.) These advances in digital imaging only bring the theatre's potential for "virtual reality" even closer.

I personally have been dazzled by truly creative video design recently in War Horse, All My Sons, 33 Variations, and the London Coast of Utopia, to name just a few shows. But good for pioneering designer Wendall Harrington to remind us, "If designers forget that theater is a live, real-time art form, if all we are doing are giving them movies and a constant stream of information, what do we have left? I understand cool and groovy stuff, but when I go to the theater, I want to be penetrated by something."

Below: A look at the surround-style setting of William Dudley's CGI design for the "ThreeSixty" Production of Peter Pan, which premiered in London's Kensington Gardens and is now touring the US. More here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I suppose it is too much to ask that actors be well trained enough (i.e. Grotowski rigorous) that they can through the power of their imagination and physicality project a scene into an audience's mind. Of course it is. I still pine for it, though.