College drama professor Jarah Botello comments about theatrical projections

Thoughts on Digital Theatre Projections?

This week on Behind the Curtain, we talk to Atlanta-based theatre director and college instructor Jarah Botello. Jarah discusses her views on digital theatre projections and their role in modern theatrical, ballet, and dance performances.

This is part of a larger conversation with Mitch Stark, Founding Creative Director of Theatre Avenue. Theatre Avenue is a creative studio that focuses on producing digital projections for theatrical shows.

Video Length: 3:28 (3 minutes, 28 seconds)

MITCH: What Are Your Thoughts on Digital Theatre Projections?

JARAH: I love them. I think projections really provide a way to fill up a lot of space with the mood you want. I loved when we did Annie. I keep thinking of  one of the projections for the orphanage, and the windows. It was so simple, but you just got the feeling of how big and kind of dark that space was for the kids. And it’s something that, I mean, with two flats behind some girls it’s just not going to have the same feel because it conveys that this is an orphanage, but it also conveys the ‘bigness of the darkness’ of where they were. I don’t know if I can explain that right.

MITCH: Yeah, it captures a mood in a way.

JARAH: Exactly. And so again if we would’ve done that show without projections, you know, it would either be a blank stage or we would’ve painted a few flats, and it would’ve been this big in a really big stage. So I love that it fills it up (the stage space) and you have the freedom and flexibility to put a lot of different things up there. You know, or to brighten it up a little bit, like the orphanage is actually getting happier as Annie’s getting more hope.

MITCH: Yeah, I love that about it too. I think we talk about it a lot—there is just this wide range of styles. You have everything. Of course when we were doing shows together we did Honk Jr. which is one end of the spectrum. It is very whimsical. I always imagine the cover of Charlotte’s Web, the book. It’s like it’s ink and watercolor, light, and very entreatable and appealing for children or really everybody. And then on the other end, I think Annie would fall in there or West Side Story or In the Heights. It’s gritty or photoreal, it can be heavily textured and then you have everything in between and I love that about it. It’s just an infinite playground where you can find all kinds of art styles that could really well suit a show. I mean, some shows you could probably design 5 different ways depending on the take.

JARAH: And even with Annie, I’ve seen that show stylized in more of a cartoony type of background or in a style that was more like the Annie cartoon. Or I’ve seen it like we did it more realistic. So, that’s the beauty of projections too, you can change the style pretty easily. I mean it’s great if you have the space to make set pieces you can roll on with the backdrops, or if you don’t have…I’ve never had a shop. I’m usually like painting stuff in my back garage or something with my students, you know. But it just provides a way to fill up the space with such beautiful colors.

Conversation in text has been adjusted slightly for readability only. There are only so many ‘likes’ and ‘kind ofs’ a person can take. And we say them plenty. (wink)

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