Technology has always been a remarkably powerful tool and the entertainment industry is no stranger to its importance. In the theatrical world, an audience’s emotions can be powerfully influenced through the use of many technological tools. A wonderful example can be found in the use of projected images in the production of The Curious Incident with the Dog in the Nighttime. An entire world of emotions, previously foreign to most, is exposed and experienced by all who are fortunate enough to see this show.
Currently running on the West End, “Dog” is a story about a young man with Asberger’s syndrome who is trying to solve a string of mysteries while traveling to London. The impressive accomplishment of projection in this show, is its ability to expose the mind of Christopher, the main character, and force the audience to share his overwhelming experience. Ben Brantley of the New York Times comments that “… it is the inspired visuals that give pulsing form to the way one person thinks.”
Projection allows theatrical designers to call upon the powerful visual stimuli that people experience every day. When formulas, numbers, lines and other symbols of data and order bathe the set of “Dog”, the emotional and sensory experience reaches new heights; heights that cannot be achieved without the use of today’s technology. The use of imagery on stage is by no means a new concept, however, the development of advanced media servers and high output projectors has shattered the ceiling of creative possibilities in live entertainment.
Though “Dog” is a wonderful example of using technology effectively to help audience members achieve an emotional experience, it is only one of many. In today’s theatrical market, there are different types of shows for different types of audiences. In a new musical Rock of Ages, sound and lighting, mixed with spectacular video elements rock the Vegas strip every night, calling on the powerful forces of nostalgia and loud music. In a recent interview with award winning Broadway designer Beowulf Boritt, he shared his own thoughts on the subject.
“Theatre is a live experience, and can be more powerful than any movie or television show. It has to be experienced live… there is no doubt that technology plays a major role in that experience.” His words reminded me of some of the most powerful emotions I can remember, and the fact that they were enjoyed in a theatrical environment, and enhanced significantly be the use of technology.
Whether it’s a show like “Dog” that taps into the mind of a numerical genius, or a production like “Rock of Ages” that brings audiences to their feet, their effects and the accompanying emotions would not be nearly as powerful without the use of theatrical technology. As the technological toolbox continues to expand, audiences can only expect the theatrical experience to become more intriguing, and delightfully fulfilling.