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  • Scenery projections in theater production

    This made me think of PrintDriver and his theater experience...

    Judy has some interesting observations in this review. I guess it's easy to go overboard.

    http://www.stltoday.com/entertainmen...e30fa2ccc.html
    This post is brought to you by the letter E and the number 9. Those are the buttons I push to get a Twix out of the candy machine.
    "I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process."

  • #2
    Couldn't get the article to load. Are they talking about Peter Pan?
    Corporate shows have been using rear projection and motion gobos since forever.
    Any good designer knows, too much of a good thing can spoil the experience. Once the effects are noticed, the show is lost. The mantra we were taught in lighting was "Do it Slow. Slow is Sexy." I did a show once where there was an underlying light cue that ran the whole act. It was a night to day transition. Subtle, yet powerful. Sure there are times for fast cues but it does not take long for the audience to tire of them. Projecting moving stuff can tire an audience out really quickly.

    Comment


    • #3
      no, it's two local, well-respected companies. Here you go:

      Years ago, people who went to the theater didn't expect the kinds of sets we're accustomed to seeing now. Today, sets may tempt you to move right in, like the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis' sets for plays by Shaw or Kaufman and Hart, or they may evoke mood as much as place, like the sets at the Fox for such musicals as "Rent" and "Spring Awakening."

      Long ago, however, the most important piece of the set was the painted backdrop, a big picture that let you know you were in a grand house or a lovely garden or a miserable hovel.

      Modern technology provides theater artists with a fresh twist on painted backdrops. Some of today's theater designers and directors use projections to establish their scenes. Projections promise two big advantages: They can be much cheaper than building and painting sets, and they can stretch the design vocabulary to include images that simply couldn't be constructed.

      Two current dramas here, "How I Learned To Drive" at Muddy Waters and "Palmer Park," a joint production of the Black Rep and the St. Louis Actors' Studio, make ample use of projections. In both cases, the technique underscores the plays' strengths and weaknesses.

      "How I Learned To Drive" closes Muddy Waters' season dedicated to the plays of Paula Vogel with her Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about the fraught connection between a small-town girl, Li'l Bit (Laurie McConnell), and her Uncle Peck (B. Weller). Peck's years-long, slow-moving sexual assault on his niece takes its toll on Li'l Bit, who gradually turns from a smart, confident child into an alcoholic wreck who spends years struggling to reclaim herself.

      Vogel doesn't tell the story in chronological order, a skillful decision. It heightens the short play's dramatic impact by magnifying the way that abuse has disrupted Li'l Bit's sense of her own integrity.

      This production, directed by Milton Zoth, emphasizes her disjointed interior life through its design, including projections by Michael B. Perkins. These images — which involve many highway signs, a witty play on Vogel's central metaphor — are big and garish, a glimpse into Li'l Bit's chaotic inner world.

      McConnell provides a fuller look with her moving portrayal of this confused young woman, drawn to her uncle even as he sickens her. Weller's performance is just as impressive, particularly in a dazzling scene in which he teaches his (unseen) nephew to fish. Peck is so kind and so dangerous that we're all mixed up — just like the children in Peck's family.

      "Palmer Park" also makes extensive use of projections over a bare-bones set. Director Ron Himes and the set and lighting designer, Patrick Huber, employ news images from the late 1960s. That is absolutely appropriate for this drama, written by Joanna McClelland Glass. And it's exactly what's wrong with it.

      "Palmer Park" tells the story of upper-middle-class couples, white and black, who in the wake of the Detroit riots of 1967 move into mansions that should be far beyond their means. The Palmer Park neighborhood is in the city, however, not the suburbs, and most buyers are fleeing. Politically liberal, culturally astute and reasonably affluent, these couples have one problem: The public schools are broke.

      Palmer Park residents raise money for their elementary school. But that does nothing for the rest of the district. When parents from an all-black, working-class, nearby neighborhood demand redistricting, Palmer Park's fragile social structure shreds.

      These things happened, and it's no surprise that McClelland Glass was there. But her earnest devotion to history turns drama into a sociology lesson, with actors supplying the footnotes.

      We may find the characters sympathetic; Reginald Pierre and Jeanitta Perkins stand out as a soft-spoken pediatrician and his wife. But "Palmer Park," which spends its long, slow first act setting the stage for the neighborhood conflict in Act II, is so busy educating us that we don't get to know them.

      Intimate moments are interrupted to remind us of what music was on the radio, or how many men were serving in Vietnam, or who's been assassinated. Full of good intentions and dramatic missteps, "Palmer Park" delivers headlines and anecdotes. We don't go to the theater for either one.

      Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/entertainmen...#ixzz1dMJZWl43
      This post is brought to you by the letter E and the number 9. Those are the buttons I push to get a Twix out of the candy machine.
      "I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process."

      Comment


      • #4
        Ah.
        It is increasingly difficult to catch and hold people's attention these days. I really do think that the mad rushing, totally connected, instant gratification that people have in the outside world is slowly killing traditional theatre. The people won't sit still for quaint old fashioned scenic treatments. I'm not a particular fan of over the top visual effects in theatre productions. But I also think the dated quality of some standard scenic treatments is passť as well.

        Comment


        • #5
          I think this is the crux of the problem:

          Intimate moments are interrupted to remind us of what music was on the radio, or how many men were serving in Vietnam, or who's been assassinated. Full of good intentions and dramatic missteps, "Palmer Park" delivers headlines and anecdotes. We don't go to the theater for either one.
          The director, along with the scenic, sound and lighting designers, have to find a way to support the script, not distract from it. It sounds like they went too far in these cases.

          I remember having to light two scenes from the opera "Susannah" in college. My budget was $0. I had a leftover set from "Oklahoma!" of Aunt Ellers front porch. That served as Susannah's house. I brought daylight to dusk during the scene, then to black as the preacher leads Susannah into the house to rape her.

          Unfortunately, the next scene is the remorseful preacher praying in church. I didn't have so much as a stained glass window as a church stand in, so I jury rigged a pin spot four steps away from the porch. The actor had to walk those steps and hit his mark with his knees by the time the musical interlude ended.

          At the first tech rehearsal, the director (who was expecting a slow fade in) started screaming "LIGHTS! LIGHTS! LIGHTS!!!!" during the interlude. I knew I did good when I hit the pin spot on full with the first notes from the singer & the piano, lighting only the singer's head & shoulders. The director's gasp filled the empty theater. It was a pretty awesome moment for me.
          This post is brought to you by the letter E and the number 9. Those are the buttons I push to get a Twix out of the candy machine.
          "I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process."

          Comment

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