Last week, I had the privilege of watching a work-in-progress rehearsal of Blair Thomas & Co.'s new piece at the MCA, Moby Dick. I was there to film the behind-the-scenes. The play is a contemporary interpretation of Herman Melville’s classic.
It's performed by just two people, but the varied modes of expressions were complex. I found out recently that Blair Thomas is the founder of Redmoon Theater. The aesthetics I closely associate with Redmoon was clearly apparent in this play too: the papier maché, shadow puppetry, projection mapping, live musician as a character.. Such combination of disciplines in live performance is exciting. I like how the story is fluidly told from dialogue to music to puppetry to projections... but all of it working towards telling the same story. That's hard to achieve. But very cool. It's a lot of surprises one after another.
Watching the projection work with everything else was the best part. There is this giant cloud-like thing that floated above the stage--that's where the projection landed. Some shots were just there as scenic support, some were there supplementary to the story, and some were abstract or visual metaphors. That's what I love about video in theater. It's multi-purpose and has so much visual power, because it's moving image. It's light and image at the same time. It can be a lit backdrop for silhouetted figures, shadow puppets, indication of time and place, a reflection of someone's mind.
I got a chance to talk to some scenic designer and lighting/projection designers there. They told me video projections in theater is really becoming a thing. I'm thrilled about that. Theater is an ancient art form that really needs some modern upgrading. I can't wait to see where theater is headed with this. Any kind of live performance, really.