Digital drama

I just had a fascinating conversation with a video-artist friend of mine who is excited about the new possibilities for digital set design in theater. I was dubious. We’ve all seen cheesy projections that make an otherwise respectable community-theater play look like a bad action flick. (“We’re running across the stage, but we’re actually in Paris! See the Eiffel Tower on that ripply scrim?”)

But as technology evolves, there are all kinds of new possibilities that at the very least can save a small theater some money. It looks like the current New York production of “The Great God Pan” (pictured) uses a digital image of a forest that works well, in part because its virtual nature reflects the dream-like state of memory. Digital sets can have a more dynamic feel, as well as a lightning change time.

Here’s a great description of a 2005 production of “Sunday in the Park with George” that I would have loved to have seen. A mix of the low and high tech of eight years ago, the London production featured frolicking cartoon dogs, an acid-green background, and the overall effect of a landscape turning into a framed painting. No doubt M. Seurat would have been proud.

I’m going to keep an eye out for innovative uses of digital scenic design. We might have just a few people here in Silicon Valley projecting into the future.

Pictured: Jeremy Strong and Sarah Goldberg in “The Great God Pan,” in a photo by Joan Marcus.

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