This week 59 Productions (the radical design and production company than I had a hand in setting up) announced their latest project. Its an adaptation of Paul Auster’s City of Glass by Duncan Macmillian, the acclaimed writer of People Places Things. The show is directed by my friend Leo Warner and is a co-production with Home and the Lyric Hammersmith.
City of Glass (part of Auster’s New York Triology) is an intriguing post-modern detective story that plays with ideas of reality, identity and imagination. I think its a perfect fit for the kind of art that Warner and the remarkable 59 Productions team create. In a recent interview with the Financial Times, he outlines their approach.
As technology has improved, virtual design has come into its own in theatre as a storytelling tool: an integral part of a show rather than an add-on. For Warner this offers an opportunity to respond artistically to a world in which digital technology plays an ever greater role.
“We’re interested in the intersection between the real and the ephemeral,” he says. … The company started out in graphic design and has gradually evolved into a much more technically wide-ranging outfit (the core team comprises directors, designers and technicians). But for Warner, an English graduate in his thirties, the key to everything it does is narrative. The shift into open-air spectacles, he says, simply offers a chance to use skills developed in theatre to create stories, visually, on a far larger scale. “Whatever it is, it is all about narrative,” he says. “Otherwise it’s just empty spectacle.”
I’m really excited to see how they will use their bespoke technology to conjure and convey the different conceptual and mental layers of Paul Auster’s novel.