This week on Behind the Curtain, we talk to theatre director Amanda Farnsworth about her love for projections. She expresses joy about the old days of unrolling traditionally painted backdrops and how digital projections have allowed her to embrace the idea by making it affordable for the theatre companies she works with. Amanda’s passion for the magic and spectacle of theatre hang on every word!
Video Length: 2:57 (2 minutes, 57 seconds)
QUESTION: “What Do You Love Most About Projections?”
AMANDA: “The thing that I love most about projections is, one, I can afford them. I have always, in my history of (doing) theatre, loved when our theatre director for our community theatre would rent drops. The big drops, where they come all rolled up and folded up and you have to roll them, and let the wrinkles settle out. And then you tie them up to the fly system. And you fly them, and all of a sudden you’ve got trees in your space. Magical and amazing! I have no hope of every being able to afford any set of drops that are physical drops. I love drops. I love what they do in a space. I love how they provide depth in a space. I love how they create, I don’t know, it’s a backdrop for your action. There’s moments where you want the audience to be in a dark room with you, and just imagine what someone is going through. There are other moments where you want the audience to be drawn into your stage as though there’s a ‘Narnia whole world’ behind that wardrobe, right? Drops are an incredible way to do that.
And that’s what I love about projections, is you can do that…simply. You don’t have to have a team of forty to tie up your drop. And then a team of forty to untie it and take it down. And plus you don’t have to spend quite the same amount of money that it would cost to rent something like that. And you also don’t have to have a fly system, which I’ve never had in any theatre that I’ve ever been able to produce anything in. And so, you have all of this freedom all of a sudden. To have the same power and depth and excitement and realism or ‘artistic-ness’…that’s not a word. But you can do it with your budget and what you have available around. So I’ve used (projected) drops in almost everything I’ve done. Because it creates an incredible connection between the audience and the story, without ever having to lift a finger. So that’s a lot of my job already done for me.
Also, then I can act a little bit as my own art director. I can work with the person creating the (projection) drops and they in turn become my scenic designer. But then I’m working with them instead of someone trying to reproduce my vision physically with paint brushes and sets and stuff like that. So, I love projections more than most things, because they bring my story to life. Also, they become a very interesting light element on the stage, which is fun. The first time I used a (projection) drop, I was like ‘Oh, there’s a ton of backlight. Oh my gosh, there’s all this light coming from here.’ And then you come across interesting things like shadows and displaying parts of the projection on actor’s faces. As soon as you know that you have that, you can use that as an extra light element as well. And it’s a lot of fun.”
If you’re interested in using projections in your show, check out our growing library of both still and animated digital artwork. You can also let us know what you’ve got coming—we’re always looking to add new scenes and shows!