Photon brings to life Robert Lepage’s technological take on the Shakespearean classic Coriolanus.
Robert Lepage is well known for the inclusion of elaborate motorized sets and video landscapes that completely transform the theatrical space. When video needs to work hand in hand with automation data and mobile structures, Photon should be the go-to choice.
The Stratford Festival has a high reputation as an international event dedicated to Shakespearean theater. Each year, the festival commissions the creation of new plays. This year, acclaimed director Robert Lepage was invited to present his adaptation of Coriolanus, Shakespeare’s classic set in ancient Rome.
In order to create a version of Coriolanus that would speak to our time, the creators used props, costumes and media content that simultaneously borrowed from ancient Rome and modernity.
The production made use of live video capture to create a televisual environment that was rear-projected against a backdrop engulfing the whole stage. This synthetic video scenery was built with the help of multiple cameras integrated in the set and composited live to generate a hybrid between a Roman forum and a televised newscast.
This video scenery also adjusted itself automatically through Photon’s vision system in order to react to the position of the props. Notably, a full-sized car was dragged onstage and had to be tracked in order to create the illusion that it was moving through a synthetic landscape.
A complex system of motorized drapes moved along the front of the stage, creating an iris effect reminiscent of the frame of a camera that drew the attention of the audience. Video had to respond to the movement of the drapes in order to create perfectly integrated vignettes. To top it off, motorized cabins that crossed the stage from left to right carrying performers had to move in sync with media content.
In order to achieve seamless technical integration, the designers had to use two different data feeds concurrently: one generated by the vision system and the other through the stage automation system that was tied to the motorized drapes and cabins.
Luckily for the on-site team, Photon features a nodal programming system that goes beyond a traditional visual FX design as it encompasses logical and mathematical operations. Using these features, they were able to interpret, filter and convert artnet data on the fly so that mechanical and visual motion could create a unified artistic experience.
Once again, Photon proves to be best integration platform when it comes to fusing information generated by automation systems and visual analysis. Photon is not only fluent in many different show control protocols, but it is also an unequaled tool when it comes to translating machine-talk into a language spoken by artists.
In Collaboration With
Director & Set Designer
Creative Director & Designer
David Hou and Clay Stang - The Garden
André Sills and members of the company in Coriolanus
From the 9th of June to the 3rd of November 2018
Stratford Festival - Ontario, Canada