Samurai Rabbits at Southwark!

December 2014

Nina has created projections for Southwark Playhouse‘s Christmas show, Usagi Yojimbo, based on the graphic novels of Stan Sakai.

It has been a hugely rewarding and collaborative semi-devised process lead by director, Amy Draper and playwright Stewart Melton, who adapted the show for the stage from 29 of Sakai’s books.

The projections draw upon Stan Sakai’s original drawings: adapting, embellishing and re-drawing on occasions then adding animation to bring Ele Slade’s elegant and beautifully suggestive set to life in Graphic novel, style and offering key moments of playful interaction with the extremely talented cast, who were very much involved throughout the process. Ele and Nina have consequently received award nominations (‘Offies’) for the design. The crossover between projection and Joshua Pharo’s lighting was extensive and extremely involved in the most fruitful of ways.

Photographs courtesy of Richard Davenport

Nina worked alongside Gillian Tan who programmed the show on Qlab and Matthew Brown, Matthew Singleton and Jade Duke assisted in the animation.

The show received a full sweep of 4* reviews.

Here are a few mentions for the projections:

The stage and bamboo also act as screens for Nina Dunn’s magical line-drawn projections, which are a nice nod to the source material and mix beautifully with the live action.

Time Out

Ele Slade’s minimalistic set provides a great backdrop for Nina Dunn’s delicate line-drawing projections, that in turn evoke the lively spirit of Sakai’s original anime style.

The Stage

Nina Dunn’s projection design places actual drawings from the comic onto the backdrop of the set. Generally speaking, the aesthetics are versatile and ingenious.

The Mini Comic Courier

Everything comes together, the set, the costume design, the music, the actors, the direction and the projected animation that accompanies, and occasionally takes over, the proceedings, make this a project worthy of the very high pedestal I place its source material on.

A Younger Theatre

Nina Dunn’s projections are impossible to look away from. Birds flying across the sky, turn to an evening rain storm, and a mosquito is cut in half and lands on the floor in front of you.

[…]we watch Usagi and Kenichi cross rivers and climb mountains on the projected surfaces (Projection Designer: Nina Dunn). I was particularly impressed by the scene when Katsuichi flies a kite that is transformed into a drawing.

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