I love a good logistical challenge. And the Encore Theatre Company‘s debut mainstage, “Down Dangerous Passes Road”, was full of them – most notably, the logistics of bringing a pickup truck on stage paired with a complicated sound design and some tricky stagecraft.
“Closer” is a bit of a breather, on the surface at least. At first glance, it’s a fairly straightforward piece: four characters, minimal set, uncomplicated lighting, pure realism. But there’s this one scene…
Scene 3, or “The Chatroom Scene”, is a five-page scene between the two male characters, Dan and Larry, that takes place in the context of an internet chatroom called “London Fuck”. The scene is virtually silent, with the “dialog” appearing as the correspondence in the chat window.
The writer, Patrick Marber, presents two versions of the scene: the original, designed to be projected on stage behind the actors showing the actual chatroom, and an alternate (or “cop-out”) version that is spoken rather than projected. In order to perform the alternate version, you must obtain special permission from Marber’s people.
Encore is not in the business of copping out.
So, the design of “London Fuck” falls to me as set designer for “Closer”. It’s a challenge I’ve never faced before. Not only am I creating original graphics and animation for the scene to be projected on the cyclorama, as director, I also have to create a way to time and cue each entry in the chatroom with the actors. It’s a complicated problem, but I’m having a lot of fun with it.
I thought to include a preview of “London Fuck” in this post, but I think I’ll hold off for now. Below is a teaser of the chatroom header.
I am using a series of programs to create the chatroom environment including Adobe Photoshop, Apple Keynote, and Adobe After Effects. Logistically, think of it like a PowerPoint presentation on bath salts.
We have our first trial run of the scene with the actors this Sunday. I’ll let you know how it goes and will update periodically on the progress of this particular “Closer” challenge.