Skriker: Production Notes and Visual Logic

PRODUCTION NOTES

Interspersed throughout the scenes are various appearances of the creatures. We have not altered the play. It is presented essentially as written. The creatures are shown to exist in a dimension gateway between our world and theirs. There is no attempt to present the creatures as “real,” but as elements of fantasy. Sometimes they influence human events, sometimes, they just observe, and “hang out” in the irreality between their world and ours. Interspersed through the play are various characters (Man With Bucket, Passerby, Girl With Telescope, etc) that in some way are influenced by the creatures and can see them, usually because they have sought out the creatures through magical means. These characters drift in and out of the play.

Casting: The play is written so that one actress plays all the various incarnations of The Skriker such as The Mental patient, The Derelict Woman, The Woman in the Pub, The Pretend Fairy, The Child In the Park, etc. We have elected to portray the underworld fairy version of The Skriker With Motion Capture (performed principally by Hugh Duneghy) and the human incarnations of The Skriker by one actress (Laura McCallum). We show two “possessions:” to establish the convention that The Skriker is “borrowing” human bodies and then rely upon the skills of the actress to portray the various incarnations of The Skriker, rather than attempt to portray the variety of characters through physical illusionistic means. Additionally, you will hear the Skriker use a variety of accents from The British Isles, including Cockney, Hampshire, Liverpool, and Yorkshire. It is hoped that this convention will further distinguish the Skriker’s various characters.

VISUAL LOGIC

The creatures, including the actual (fairy) appearance of the Skriker, are not seen by most humans but exist in the dimension gateway between humans and the underworld. Once in a while, through extraordinary means, (girl with telescope, man with cloth and bucket) it is possible for a human to get a glimpse of a creature’s true appearance, but not often. Some humans fall prey to the creatures’ temptations and can actually interact with them, but only after being tempted and succumbing to temptation. The Skriker is careful not to reveal her true appearance to anyone. This is why she appears as a human version of a fairy in scene 13. Likewise, in the underworld, it is a “humanized,” corporeal version of the Skriker Josie sees and the captured human souls of the underworld put on the celebration, and the ugly, hideous creatures remain unseen by Josie.

The major impetus for the scenic design of THE SKRIKER is German Expressionism, probably best exemplified in the film THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI. German Expressionism was a stage painting technique that found its way into films. As the Nazis rose to power, many German theater artists and film artists fled Germany and made their way into Hollywood. Expressionism found its way into the Universal horror films of the 1930s and it has remained a major artistic approach until this day. The distorted and angled lines of expressionism are meant to depict a world that is askew and out of control and we believe this is appropriate to the universe created by Ms. Churchill for THE SKRIKER. The scenery of the everyday world is presented in Black and White (actually a “bluish noir”) to depict the drabness of the everyday world and also to maintain the integrity of its roots (CALIGARI). The creatures and underworld, however, are presented in color, to set them apart from the “real” world and to make them enticing and attractive.

All images are original to this production. The images are in stereoscopic 3D. A left and a right eye view are created via imaging programs and outputted through polarized projectors. Glasses polarized at different angles for the left and right eye are worn by the audience. The glasses force the eyes to maintain separate left and right eye views, thus creating the illusion of depth in 3 dimensions.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

This production utilizes motion capture. A motion capture suit is capable of transferring the movements of a live actor to a digital puppet. The creatures were created in Lightwave 3D, a digital modeling program. They were then imported into the motion capture program, Motion Builder, for use by actors equipped with motion capture suits. Motion capture is the technique used in Peter Jackson’s KING KONG to create the giant ape. Motion capture has also been used in hundreds of other films.

This is the second production of HFCC’s Virtual Theatricality Lab. The first production was THE TEMPEST (2003). THE TEMPEST was presented again in January 2004 at The Kennedy Center’s American College Theater Festival at Illinois State University.

The purpose of THE TEMPEST was to explore the creation of Virtual Reality for use in a live theater environment. After THE TEMPEST, it was decided that The Virtual Theatricality Lab would take “the next step,” but no one was sure what the next step was. There are several elements that comprise a theatrical production: the actor, the space, the audience, and the script. After examining THE TEMPEST, the element which seemed to be lacking in THE TEMPEST was a direct emphasis on the actor. While the interactive aspect of the production did provide some outlet for actors’ creativity, the overall scenic approach, although VR, did not involve the actors to a great extent. It was, for this reason, the VTL Lab decided to explore the area of motion capture.

HFCC’s Technology Improvement Fund Committee generously granted The Virtual Theatricality Lab a grant to explore Motion Capture in live performance situations.

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