Live Performance with Actors, Musicians, & Projections
This was a wonderful collaboration over several years, with Andrew Burashko, his Art of Time Ensemble, and theatre director Daniel Brooks. Based on correspondence between John Berger & John Christie, and in turn adapted from a BBC Radio play with original music by Gavin Bryars, it's a mixed performance piece about friendship, thought, and colour. Bruce Alcock designed the set and projections.
It's a strangely non-theatrical idea for two actors to read out letters to one another on stage: more like a recital than a play, really. So the challenge was to build a sense of their relationship to one another, by combining the music, lighting, and imagery with the actor’s work. And it's all live, so building a single film for the whole piece couldn't work night after night without inevitable changes in timing and audience reaction. And balancing audience attention is always challenging with projection, because everyone's drawn to the big bright screens.
Once Andrew and David built the sequence of letters (excerpts from the much longer original book of letters and images), Bruce developed a visual language of paint and texture. The idea was to represent Berger's and Christie's minds' eye: what they might have pictured while writing, and reading, and recalling details referred to in the letters. Animated paint and texture flow between screens positioned behind each actor, slowly enough not to distract from the play, meaningful enough to add another dimension to it. In the end, there were several component films to each of the seventeen letters, cued to sync points in the music and script. On stage, all elements played as a cohesive whole.
A film, a painting, an essay, a concert – and yes, a play – all at once… Extraordinary.
- Macleans Magazine