It’s nice to know we’re getting noticed by our industry neighbours downstairs. This month’s issue of American Theatre magazine, the bi-monthly publication of the Theatre Communications Group (America’s advocacy organization for the not-for-profit theatre sector) has an article discussing the potential of new-media projection theatre bringing in a fresh young audience.
How are we to transform the theatre to attract young audiences, in this time when live performance could not be more important as a platform for much-needed social discourse?
One answer to the question is to embrace the technosphere in which the youth of today are immersed (along with, of course, the rest of us not-so-young, yet nevertheless immersed), and to engage it passionately, while attempting to maintain a critical distance. This means opening the theatre’s stage door to projection designers, new media artists and systems engineers—to animators, filmmakers and laptop wizards—and to the panoply of technologies they practice.
UBC’s Robert Gardiner is mentioned in the article as being a groundbreaker for this kind of work:
In the department of Theatre and Film at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, scenographer Robert Gardiner heads one of the most daring and sustained pedagogical explorations of new media for the theatre. With guest artists, students and faculty, he conducts research and creates stagings that employ projection not only as imagery and scenery but often as stage lighting as well. These productions, such as Studies in Motion: The Hauntings of Eadweard Muybridge (co-produced with Electric Company Theatre), have sometimes been showcased in Vancouver’s PuSh International Performing Arts Festival.
It’s rare that anything Canadian gets mentioned in ATM, so this is pretty great, and hopefully heralds much wider recognition for our local theatre. Congratulations you guys, keep up the great work.