Wednesday, December 15, 2010


First this post in incredibly overdue. This show took place in mid October...oh well better late than never.

So many times I have read on theatre blogs about education and collaboration. "We should be getting other parts of the school involved," high school teachers always seem to be saying. "We should take better advantage of our resources."

Recently I worked on a high school production that did exactly that. I had a great experience with the students and I would like to share it with you.

The production was of The Adding Machine by Elmer Rice. One of the main themes of the show is the interaction between men and technology, and the inability of the main character to cope with a world in which he becomes irrelevant, because his work can be done by a machine. Our director wanted to use projections, live video feed and other modern technologies to comment on this 1920's play.

I loved the idea and thought it was exactly the right direction to take the play, but also knew that the look we were hoping to achieve was WAY out of my league in terms of technical expertise. Fortunately the high school's AV club (called "tech team") was incredibly excited to get involved.

At the very first meeting as I described the concepts to both the theatre tech students and the tech team, the students were getting excited and suggesting new ideas that I hadn't even thought of ("during the Elysian fields scene could we project clouds and a blue sky on the acoustic tiles on the ceiling of the auditorium?" "Absolutely"). I told them what I wanted for each scene; they took the ideas and ran with them. We had live video feed onto projectors in two scenes, live video feed onto a tv screen in another scene, edited projections of both video and still images at all other times, and I hardly had to touch any it. A few of the students even moved from functioning as technicians to functioning as designers. They started to explore the meaning of the play and discuss how the projections contributed to the overall stage picture in each scene.

Our actors and theatre students learned a lot about the technology they were working with (both physically and within the themes of the play) and the tech students got to explore (and I think found a new appreciation for) art and theatre.

Overall the experience was amazing, and all we had to do was ask, the faculty advisor for tech team did the rest and was grateful, I think, for the chance to do something totally different with his students.

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