Theatre and Dance projection tips by Theatre Avenue

Projection Tip [#3] - Enhance Story, Don't Overshadow

This theatre and dance projection tip is from theatre teacher and director in Ft. Collins, Colorado, Joel Smith...

Joel Smith, Theatre Director in Colorado offers theatre projection tips.

What tip or advice would you offer up to help projections be a success in  theatre and dance shows?


Projections are one of those areas where you have to consider both the aesthetic and artistic choices, and the technology to make them happen. 

As far as artistic decisions are concerned, avoid jumping into projection work just because it is new and shiny. Like any other production element, it needs to serve the script, the story, and the director’s vision. Projections should enhance your story-telling, not overshadow it. Like pyrotechnics, often a little can go a long way. Be discerning and selective. Projections are often great for that one big “wow” moment!

When it comes to the tech, don’t be afraid of it! Reach out to your local colleges and colleagues. Someone has the equipment you need, and someone knows how to make it work. It takes a village… Like with anything else, dream big, and then see what you can do. It might not end up exactly how you planned (when does it ever…), but you might get close. If you are a teacher, there are some amazing things happening in your school’s Digital Design, TV and Broadcasting, Digital Animation, and Robotics classes. See if you can get those teachers and students involved in your production!

Other Tips in Series

#1 - "Be Open to Learn" by Pat Santanello
#2 - "Control Your Light" by K'Lynn Hocker

More with Joel Smith

TheatrePeople Interview with Joel

More about Joel

Joel Smith has been working in theatre for over twenty-five years. He has a BA in Psychology from the University of Redlands, CA, and a Masters of Theatre Studies from Southern Oregon University. He worked at the Magic Theater in San Francisco, the Cedu School in Southern California, and Rim of the World High School in Lake Arrowhead, CA, where he taught theatre and produced productions for 10 years.

This is his 11th year at Poudre High School, in Ft. Collins, CO. Joel has appeared in numerous productions, including What the Butler Saw, You Can’t Take it with You, Accomplice, and Richard III. He has directed numerous plays and musicals, including The Fantasticks, Man of La Mancha, The Laramie Project, and more recently, Avenue Q, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and James & the Giant Peach. He has designed sets and lighting for various productions, including The Crucible, Camelot, Annie, Twelfth Night, and Into the Woods. In his very limited off-time, Mr. Smith enjoys skiing, reading, and relaxing with his wife, Melanie, and his children, Jackson and Taryn.

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