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Showing posts from 2014

Adapting a Process.

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This one might be boring to read to non design/theater nerds. This is about a part of my design process.

If there was ever a show that demonstrated so clearly just how important PROCESS is, it's "Deus Ex Machina."

"Deus" is an upcoming show (opening in January) produced by Whirligig Productions that will tell the story of the Oresteia, with a catch: the audience plays the part of the gods. When a character receives a prophecy, the audience determines what that prophecy is, thus affecting the choices made by that character and the narrative path of the rest of the play. The list of challenges this type of project poses for a lighting designer is long, and I'm adding to it daily. At the heart of that list is the fact that I'm not actually designing ONE show - I'm designing TWELVE, because there are twelve possible ways to move through the story.
I'm still at the beginning of my design process for this show, and I have a dance piece to design befor…

Top 5 Pieces of Theater I Wish I Could See.

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Yesterday I saw the news that Punchdrunk is planning an immersive theatrical experience in Los Angeles. A trip to LA, at some unidentifiable time in the future when I have more money and time off, seems completely doable, much more so than London. Within the past year there have been so many productions that I've been unable to see, because I am in Austin Texas and they are in Elsewhere. Aside from "The Drowned Man," here are a few others for which I would have happily bought a plane ticket, had it been possible:

1."Imagining O." This, more than anything else, I wanted/want to see - I hope that it's restaged or remounted at some point because I would happily travel to see it. The idea of an immersive Story of O...I don't know if I've heard of another work being developed as immersive theater that has intrigued me so much and made me wonder just how far the artists were going to push the boundaries of the audience members. And, as an aside, I would L…

Sexism, Entitlement, Art & Geek Culture.

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I've been following #GamerGate for the past two months, despite my better judgement. It is, at turns, hysterical and infuriating and stressful. Hysterical because to the outside world, a lot of what has happened in this controversy looks absolutely ridiculous. Infuriating and stressful because unfortunately, it has actually affected quite a few actual lives, and not in a good way. During load in for one of my recent shows I told a friend, artistic director of a well-respected company in Austin, all about this "scandal," and it was quite satisfying. He is the type of person who doesn't pull punches when talking about the world around him and the oppression of different groups of people that is inherent in our culture. We had a good, long laugh at the idea that #GamerGate happened at all, that people are "fighting" this "battle" with the tactics that they are using. Given that #GamerGate started at the same time as the events in Ferguson, it was ins…

Five Things: Updates from Guapa Tech

1. I'm really, really proud to say that my work on "Bethany" this past May was nominated for a B. Iden Payne award. There have been times in the past where I have thought, why are they recognizing this show? or, Why are they NOT recognizing this show? I don't this time. I feel that between "Sila," "Bethany," the remount of "Orchid Flotilla," "Still Now," and the current "Guapa," I've grown a ton as a designer this year and figured some things out that have in the past eluded me. It's also great to see friends and collaborators also nominated, including Glass Half Full and Trouble Puppet.

2. I am once again sick during a tech. This is the third time this has happened this year and HOPEFULLY (gives self stern look) I'll actually change a few things about my lifestyle now. While on the cruise I tried acupuncture for the first time, in order to stave off a headache that I had on day 1 (my headaches can actuall…

Five Things: Updates from Still Now Tech

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1. I'm still waiting to get pics from the remount of "The Orchid Flotilla" up on my site, but in the meantime we've gotten a couple of really great reviews, and even mentions of the lighting design!

From Broadway World: "THE ORCHID FLOTILLA unfolds in five parts that go from sunrise to sunset and spans 13 years of the woman's life. The performers/puppeteers are Caroline Reck and Gricelda Silva and they are both glorious storytellers. There may be no dialogue, but they say far more than words can with expression and movement. Underscoring the evening is a beautiful score by Adam Sultan and an exceptional sound design by K. Eliot Haynes. There is also a stunning lighting design by Megan Reilly. Each of the parts of this production shares an equal importance in telling this stunning, moving, ephemeral dream-story."

From Austin360.com: "K. Eliot Haynes’ lovely sound design pairs with Megan Reilly’s dynamic lighting to create a world for the play…

The Magic is not Magic.

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Of all of the tweets and other expressions of outrage that have hit the internet in the last 18 hours, this one is my favorite:
Last night we learned that the Tony Awards Administration Committee will no longer be giving out awards for Best Sound Design of a Play and Best Sound Design of a Musical. This is heartbreaking and disappointing and does not bode well for our industry.

I do not watch the Tonys. I hear a lot of people every year at this time saying "I don't watch the Tonys" and the reason given is usually the belief that the Tonys are not truly representative of theater. This actually doesn't bother me. I also don't believe that the Oscars are representative of films and I DEFINITELY don't believe that the Grammys are representative of music - why should the Tonys be any different? I don't watch the Tonys because the part that I care about the most - the design awards - usually happens during the commercial break. Unlike the Oscars I'm not lik…

Five Things: Updates from Bethany Tech.

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I've been in tech for Theatre En Bloc's production of Bethany since Monday, as well as paper teching on Sunday night and spending the rest of the weekend immersed in other lighting design issues. It's going to be a really good show, and I'm happy with my work on it. But, to be honest, the show and the design are not what has been on my mind since I woke up on Saturday morning.

1. Let's call the Isla Vista killings what they were: misogynist extremism. "But if you think for one second, for one solitary second, that demanding tolerance for men as a group, that dismissing the reality of violence against women because not all men kill, not all men rape, if you think that’s more important than demanding justice for those who have been brutalised and murdered by those not all men, then you are part of the problem. You may not have pulled the trigger. You may not have raised your hand to a woman in your life. But you are part of the problem."

2. #NotAllMe…

On patience.

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For the past four years, I've been involved with a strange project - FRAGILE: Global Performance Chain. It started in Italy by artistic duo VestAndPage, who wanted to see if a fragile object (a glass plate, made for the project) could be passed hand to hand, artist to artist, around the world and make it back to the place where it started. Each artist would create something that utilized the object and document it before passing it on to the next. There was an initial call for artists, and I signed up, along with 750 other people. I remember getting the full itinerary of the journey the object was going to travel. I was assigned a spot sandwiched between someone in New Mexico and someone in Kansas. I had hoped a bit that the person to whom I'd pass the object would be in a different country, just so I could have an excuse to travel, but I was excited anyway because I'd never been to Kansas.

I still haven't, four years later.

I remember initially brainstorming ideas for…

The Problem With Sleep No More's Audience.

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On my recent trip to NYC I had my third visit to the McKittrick Hotel. Punchdrunk's "Sleep No More" is sacred ground to me, ever since my very first life-altering experience of it. I love this show. I love what it opens up about theater and art to everyone and how it has affected the way companies use the audience-performer-stage design interaction.

And I enjoyed my third trip. When I got off the elevator (the first elevator) I was near the ballroom, on the mezzanine level, and found myself standing next to Macbeth. I had planned to make this visit about following the performers and their arcs, because my previous visits has focused more on the design and space itself. I really hate competing with crowds and every time in the past that I've started to get the slightest bit annoyed with those around me, I just left and went to look at something else. This results in me having seen many individual scenes, but never one full character's story, something a lot of peo…

Down the Rabbit Hole.

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My artistic world was altered forever when I first saw Punchdrunk's "Sleep No More" back in 2011.  I fell in love with the show, with the idea of experiential/immersive/gamified theater and have been following the show's online fan community ever since.  And it was through this community that I first heard of Third Rail Project's immersive production "Then She Fell."  Since I currently don't live near NYC, and getting tickets to this show can be difficult due to a limited number of audience members allowed at each performance, I wasn't sure that I would have the opportunity to experience it.

Last week I spent a couple of days in NYC binging on theater, and finally was able to see "Then She Fell."

It's better than "Sleep No More."

I credit this difference largely to the intimacy of "Then She Fell."  With only 15 audience members allowed at each performance, I was greeted personally at the door and led from moment…

Five Things: Updates from (after?) Sila Tech

"Sila" has opened (and is amazing, you should see it if you're anywhere near New Hampshire), and the tech process for the show was intense enough for me that nothing else happened for those two weeks, including reading, writing, visiting family, yoga, working out, etc.  I am really and truly ready to go home and see Travis and my kitties, and can honestly say that if I don't see any more snow for another decade, I won't be sad.

1.  Areas that embrace shades of grey - I love staying true to the complexities in life and not oversimplifying issues or existence into patented solutions, talking points and soundbites with which no human can really identify.  The past couple of weeks I have been binge-watching "Continuum" during countless hours of editing, re-editing, rendering, re-rendering, and cueing video for "Sila."  There is true conflict there over what in the given circumstances is the "right" thing to do, and how much of what one w…

Unconventional Collaborations.

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Next week I head to New Hampshire to kick "Sila" into gear.  The light plot was turned in this week and There Will Be Revisions in the coming days.  The projection design is coming together and has had me exploring things - like animation - that I hadn't expected to be doing a year ago.  It's amazing and exhausting and a reminder of why I do love taking on things that I know will challenge me.

The projection design also gave me an opportunity I had not expected - the chance to collaborate with my nine year old niece.  I love it when a project lends itself to collaborations with unexpected or unconventional people.  This isn't the first time I've asked a child to help out with something - we did that for the projection design in "Transformations" back in 2008, involving a good friend's daughter doing large-scale finger painting.  There is a moment in "Sila" involving a child's drawing.  After a couple of attempts at creating this my…

Five Works of Art Discovered in 2013.

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This is a few days late, since we are already four days into 2014, but visiting family, holidays, and working on "Sila" have kept this post on the back burner.  At the end of the year everyone seems to have a list of the Top Ten Whatevers from the year - movies, books, etc.  Unfortunately, I rarely "discover" something the year it was released or created.  My consumption of art and media is such that I'm always randomly finding things a month, a year, a decade, later than everyone else.  Each December I try to make lists of things that *I* discovered for the first time that year, whether they were from this year or not.  These five cover things that I have not written about in this blog in 2013 but which have intellectually or emotionally stuck with me this year.


1.  Shane Carruth's "Upstream Color."

Carruth's previous film, "Primer," was one I watched twice in one night, without even a five minute pause between the two viewings.  It…