Narrativity Tropes - Applied Phlebotinum

Applied Phlebotinum can be directly described as a substance that is believed to reveal the truth. In narrative terms many stories have seen this substance in the form of, for example, a crystal ball in a fantasy novel that reveals a moment either in the past, present, or future. This crystal reveals the truth or form of truth that should be taken seriously to propel forward the story or plot. In the context of projection design for the stage, this is a powerful trope that can be used to the advantage of a said designer. Understanding the mechanics of this can control the eventual use of projections throughout a show.

Final moments before acceptance of fate  'tick, tick....BOOM'  2012

Final moments before acceptance of fate 'tick, tick....BOOM' 2012

Playing a game on the computer ' The Life and Death of Doctor Faustus'  2015

Playing a game on the computer 'The Life and Death of Doctor Faustus' 2015

The cell of  '50:13'  2015

The cell of '50:13' 2015

Sifting through the microfiche of time in  'tick, tick....BOOM'  2012

Sifting through the microfiche of time in 'tick, tick....BOOM' 2012

In the 2012 production of tick, tick...BOOM with Porchlight Music Theatre a big concept that the director Adam Pelty was interested in was the idea that the lead character was effectively experiencing the entirety of the play in a flash before his death. In a play originally written by Jonathan Larson as a one man show, it outlines a one week journey of finding oneself  in the midst of being a playwright in New York in the 90's. Slightly autobiographical the director wanted to make a more specific connection outlining a direct connection to Jonathan Larson's death and the character Jon in the show. To execute this idea the concept of the microfiche of time that looked at his whole life in the this void that we start with at the top of the show. As the character interacts with it, the play begins. Leading us to land on the story of the play.Using this device throughout the show then influenced everything from the look (old photographs, grainy paper) to the movement (quick swipes) to the dimensions of transitions. Using projections in this manner then gives a system of rules to which the projections occupy. They then become directly tied to the character that wields them. In the case of the character Jon he controlled the storytelling, until the rules where broken and the projections began to take on a life of it's own to tell him a story. In that since the tool becomes a vehicle for the audience to elevate their perception of the story on stage.

Other examples could include the use of computers and or the internet. In the case of Doctor Faustus were used as the portal to communicate to Mephistopheles. A surveillance camera looking onto a scene and game show with judges can also be examples.

Sam or Larry  'The Magic Negro'  2017

Sam or Larry 'The Magic Negro' 2017

Representation on Stage - Contextual/Dialectic

In as simple of a term projection design can be signified as both a subject and a question. In as much as one can answer the 5W's of investigation (What, Who, Where, When, Why) as well as the definition of a noun (Person, place, thing, or idea) as projected imagery and the manipulation of it allows for the solution to the questions posed by the text. It is easy to assume that this could be considered the oldest use of projections, but in fact that fails to take into account the Phantasmogoria's of the 18th and 19th century, the experimentation of cinema, and magic lanterns by magicians in the late 19th century, and light shows from artist like Thomas Wilfred in the early 20th century. However, in the mid 20th century this was the main use of projection design in commercial American Theatre with the use of slide projectors. In that format in it's simplest form projections can provide the opportunity to contextualize that information to define the space.

 It can be as simple as projecting the words 'noon,'

Designation of time from  'columbinus'  2012

Designation of time from 'columbinus' 2012

to what can be defined as a scenic backdrop whether still or moving. The dynamics of which can be explored either in the defining of a space (ie the place itself) or the feeling of the space. Such as moving branches on a window, or scrolling images on a idle computer.

Dead moving branches on voile windows in  'The Stone Witch'  2016

Dead moving branches on voile windows in 'The Stone Witch' 2016

The Devil's Ball in ' The Master and Margarita '   2014                                                                                                                                                     

The Devil's Ball in 'The Master and Margarita'   2014                                                                                                                                                     

Faustus after the deal is finished, with idle computers in the background  'The Life and Death of Doctor Faustus'  2015

Faustus after the deal is finished, with idle computers in the background 'The Life and Death of Doctor Faustus' 2015

In short contextual projections simply places the character and audience with the world defining time and place. Defining the space is an expensive enterprise to invest in when dealing with projections, as the first priority of this path of representation is believably. More plainly, does this world mesh with the world of the play that has been also defined by the scenery, costumes as well as the other design elements. Does it communicate the dimensions of the space, does it shift with the rhythms of the text, can it disappear are all questions that must be take into consideration, is equipment powerful/sofisticaed enough to acheive these things. In one sense it can be defined partially as a realistic rendering of a fictitious reality on stage. In another way it is a great way to set up an expectation from the audience providing the illusion of expectation to the surprise of a change to that same space.