(Photo by Jason Sherman)
Terrence J. Nolen, producing artistic director of Arden Theatre Company, and scenic/video designer Jorge Cousineau recently collaborated on the Arden Theatre’s production of the Tony Award-winning musical The Secret Garden and took to the stage during Philly Tech Week 2017 presented by Comcast to talk about it. Using the fairytale world of paper dolls and pop-up books, the artistic duo built a revolving set and drew models by hand of the musical’s various settings. Once they painstakingly finished the drawings, they projected them onto a screen inside of a large wooden frame. Essentially, their projections became part of the set.
Using technology, Nolen and Cousineau have been able to figure out how to visualize each element of their production before actually creating anything. By using video renderings, 3D models and software, they have been able to anticipate any challenges, artistic mistakes and prepare the cast and crew for the whole production before actually starting.
“Everything needs to be very precise. If anything is a half second behind or forward, it would look like a TV that was out of sync,” said Lauren Hughes, director of development at the Arden Theater. “It’s not just a backdrop anymore. What Nolen and Cousineau have been able to create is a technological real life design that allows the audience to truly see and feel everything in the real world.”
Telling a story with a cast and dialogue is one thing, but to be able to incorporate technology and visual elements into it is a whole new world. And the Arden Theater is doing it in spades. One thing is for sure: “The exciting thing about seeing this work on stage is it helps to incorporate all of our senses, in that it’s visual, auditory and captures your complete attention,” said Nolen.