The next advancement in scenery . . . none.
A friend of mine who stays up on the latest in all sorts of technology sent me a link the other day for a projection-like company called ViXen, which is marketing a “visual performance system”. Check it out here.
My favorite part of their non-fancy website for such a fancy tech company is this quote: “We invite any requests or ideas and we will work with our extended community of colleagues to source and/or develop a solution that can accomplish almost any design.”
In other words . . . “tell us what you want to do and we’re pretty confident we can deliver it.”
My early adopter friend suggested to me that there might be theatrical applications for their technology. “Sure,” I said. There aren’t many new shows that open up without a “Projection Designer” on the title page of the Playbill these days. (And we wonder why costs are escalating, we keep coming up with new types of professionals needed on shows, but we’re not getting rid of any in the process!)
Remember last year’s Tony Awards? There weren’t many sets. Most shows used a sort of projection/LED combo on a light wall to get their bright-lite-like point across. And it worked, looking great and saving lots of bucks (not to mention lumber) in the process.
Do you think that we could be on our way to sets being entirely replaced by electronic representations? In 20 years will it all be projections? Will every theater come with screens, for you to light up as you wish?
And, will this make it possible for many, many, many shows to share the same space?
Oooooh, now there’s the most compelling reason for the adoption of this type of tech in some theaters. With the flip of a drive, you could have an entirely different “set” of projections for a 2nd or 3rd show that split the rent.
While I don’t think sets will ever disappear (nor should they), in the same way that I don’t think orchestras will ever disappear (nor should they) no matter how much technology we come up with that simulates the same experience, I do think we’ll see a bunch of shows that rely solely on projections in the next 10-20 years.
Seeing a set might be rare.
But if that’s what it takes to keep people seeing shows, I’m fine with it.
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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.