(scenery design / Projection
This production marked the North
American premiere of the Tadashi Suzuki version of the work. The
production was directed by Suzuki’s former student, Yukihiro Goto
and was presented by The State University of New York at Stony Brook
in a black-box theatre pre-configured as an end-room proscenium
environment (SUSB has multiple black-box theatres so this one is
semi-permanently configured). There was a small to modest budget for
scenery of around $1500.
Description of the Setting and
The setting consisted of a
series of screens that could travel across the stage on cable. The
screens could close off portions of the stage, or move in
choreographic patterns with the actors, or situate into a traditional
wing and drop style configuration.
The screens were of an
innovative design. They were fabricated from plastic "safety snow
fence" the orange net fencing material one most often sees around
construction sites. These were transformed into high-gain projection
surfaces through the application of a silver coating. Since
approximately 60% of the area of the screen material consisted of
holes, the screens took on a scrim function as well. When layered and
interacting with actors, light, and projections, a myriad of moiré
patterns were created.
Behind the planes of screen
operation were situated 2, 8 foot high seats on which sat the
"gods" through the entirety of the production.
At the rear of the stage, to
create maximum depth and light dimensionality, we fabricated a rear
projection cyc. Our budget was so very limited that I had to
experiment with found materials. In the end I designed the RP cyc from
black plastic garbage bags, slit, and re-assembled into a drop. It
took a lot of experimentation with different brands to find the best
product for this application. There was some wrinkling, but with the
angle of projection being very flat, the wrinkles, as seen through the
screens, took on a very shimmery quality.
Another innovative element was a
series of bodies produced as props. These were produced in a stylized
sculptural manner from raw 1" diameter Ethafoam.
Working Within the Suzuki Style and
Support of the Suzuki style and
methods became a paramount objective in this assignment. My understanding
of this system came primarily through work with the director, Yukihiro
Goto, and through extensive observation of the actors in training and in
performance. My observations of the style and process were as follows:
The training and style is
The style is about the
performer within and interacting with, and creating SPACE
Within the movement style,
stillness is celebrated as an important choice of movement.
The movement is oven very
disciplined and stylized.
The style is very
presentational (vs representational)
The actor is the focus, but
The style presents classical
theatre forms, but interpreted through modern structure. In this
sense it is a very post-modern theatre form.
There are also elements of
cultural fusion. In this case we were integrating three cultural
sensibilities geographical and temporal, The classical Greek,
Classical and modern Japanese, and modern western forms.
In the scenery and projection
elements, I aimed to support the style, but I was excited to offer
physical parallels to the style as well. The results were exciting
especially as in the end, the acting/directing style also greatly
supported the visual work. For instance the wonderful use of stillness
allowed for the lighting by Richard Dunham as well as my projection work
to be even more striking than would normally be the case. The disciplined
blocking allowed for maximum control of light and spill.
In the design, as Suzuki does, I use
a traditional framework, in this case the wing, and drop form, but
re-interpret it through the use of modern materials and new perspectives.
The set feels at once, Japanese, classical, modern, and Western.
The kinetic nature of the set
allowed for a complete integration with the actors and their movement. The
clear floor allowed the actors full control of their space. The projection
elements allowed for strong support of the emotional texture of the work.
They were all abstract images and textures from my collection of
A word on the Projection Technology
The photographs of Clytemnestra
presented in this portfolio are not re-touched (except to remove photo
blemishes like dust and scratches). Even at curtain call, the projections
were quite bright and striking. Yet this was accomplished with a single,
off the shelf, Kodak Ektagraphic III projector (before bright module
technology) at the rear of the audience area.. Through an understanding
and application of basic principles of optics, I have been able to develop
techniques and methods allowing projections to be 2-8 times brighter than
they would appear in most theatre instances. This show provides an example
of my work in this arena. Even with the extreme wide angle of a 1.4"
fl lens, the images are striking. One review even referred to the
beautiful "painted drops" in the set when in reality all images
were from the projection work.