The Immediacy of Multimedia Theatre

Liz Kettle in Waves, photo by Steve Cumminsky
In the Guardian, Lyn Gardner discusses multimedia in theatre, with some kind words for my friend and collaborator Judith Adams, and for Fifty Nine Productions (of which I am a proud, if non-executive, director):

with the technology at their fingertips, answers and images can be conjured by theatre makers immediately during the rehearsal or devising process, sound can be fed directly into the ears of the audiences in pieces such as Small Metal Objects or Judith Adams’ Ghost or Clickwind

Speed and immediacy is one of the key benefits of digital technology. New ideas can be tried out immediately, and discarded or incorporated into the thing being created. The speed at which one can do this means that the train of thought is not interupted, the creative process can continue.

Earlier this year Leo Warner and Mark Grimmer of Fifty Nine Productions – who have contributed brilliant work to Katie Mitchell’s Waves and Attempts on her Life and the projection design for Warhorse – were made the National Theatre’s youngest ever associates. … From what I’ve seen of it so far, Fifty Nine’s contributions to the productions on which they collaborate, whether it is in Black Watch or the adaptation of the cartoon Alex, are integral to the production and always in service of it. But I keep seeing productions in which it appears as if playing with the technologies is the prime interest of the theatre-makers, rather than the show itself. [My links].

Previously, ideas for video and multimedia had to be planned in advance, and video artists would return days or weeks later with the ideas discussed… by which time, the creative process had moved one. Being able to quickly realize a complex idea on screen is probably also part of Fifty Nine’s success. You need quick technology, but you also need a quick mind to grasp what the director wants to see, and why. This, as much as the state-of-the-art technology, is why Leo and Mark were appointed associates at the National Theatre, earlier this year.

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