Bonnie & Clyde – Projection for a runaway success

Taking a look under the hood of the Video Design for Bonnie & Clyde
The Arts Theatre, West End
London, April 2022

This is an excellent production firing on all cylinders

★★★★ WhatsOnStage

Set in Texas, America during the era of the Great Depression the story follows Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow who shot to fame as America’s most renowned folk heroes and the worst nightmare of the Texas law enforcement.

A concert production of Bonnie and Clyde took place at at Drury Lane earlier in the year was extremely well recieved and the team wanted to elevate the fully staged production with an extended set including video, adding a graphical edge and a grunge element to the musical.

The visual language for the projection was inspired by 1930s WANTED posters and used an elemental two-toned graphic style to support location and contextualise the infamous couple’s story within the political climate of the Great Depression. Some passages of narrative were also delivered purely through stylised projection which involved a shoot with the cast to create silhouette content of of the actors.

One of the most dramatic of moments within the design is perhaps when Clyde murders a police officer at their infamous hideout in Joplin. In this version, he experiences a flashback and sees his childhood self which prompts him to to realise how he has evolved as a person with his dreams of Al Capone style infamy starting to unravel before him.

 it is superbly staged and brilliantly performed

Simon Button, Attitude

The Arts theatre is a very confined and intimate space and initially the design included an a LED wall, but in discission with Nina the team this did not lend itself to the performance space or and gritty nature and look of the musical. Drawing on the gorgeous paint treatment of the set, teamed with the projection aspect of the video design it gave the piece the desired aged tobacco-stained look. Projection also lends itself well to shifting time and location very easily, making for very seamless scene changes. Blackouts soon became choreographed scene changes aiding the flow of the whirlwind story.

The structure of the American flag was an integral part of the video design as it seemed to Nina to represent Bonnie and Clyde’s personalities and subtly these were encompassed in the design; the stripes on the flag representing a motif of encarceration that followed Clyde’s imprisonment from a young age and his trouble with law enforcement and the stars lending themselves to the fame that Bonnie was seeking through her dreams of Hollywood. Through these opposing personalities, an overarching idea is seeded relating to how people seek fame and escape in America: either through fame or infamy. 

The flag also lends itself well as a graphical to hint at the fragility of the American dream. At the top of Act two, ‘Made in America’ – as song that describes the hardships of the great depression – is performed to projected propaganda posters from the era combined with graphical twists on the flag motif. The use of torn posters combined with Zoe Spurr’s sharp and unforgiving lighting supported the irony being described in the lyrics of America as a places that at once caimed to offer the greatest lifestyle in the world against the relaity of soup kitchens and extreme poverty. Bonnie and Clyde were products of this political background, desperate for escape and their own adventure.

The story introduces a fallen America where breadlines are the norm and the judicial system is as flawed as it is dangerous. Winston builds on these themes with subtle hints throughout, giving in to a no-nonsense approach during “Made in America”.

It’s during this number that Nina Dunn‘s projections make a statement […]. A line-up of various firearms expands upwards to form the stripes of the Star-Spangled Banner, echoing a fundamental and topical issue.

★★★★ Broadway World

Director: Nick Winston

Musical Director: Katy Richardson

Set & Costume Designer : Phillip Witcomb

Sound Designer: Tom Marshall

Lighting Designer: Zoe Spurr

Wig Design: Darren Ware

Projection Content, Video design & art direction: Nina Dunn

Content Team: Matthew Brown, Libby Ward, Virginie Serneels, Cheng Keng, Laura Salmi

Production Engineer/System Design: Harrison Cooke

Video Programmer: Lauren Kunicki

Production Engineer: Jason Hunter

Lighting/Video HOD: Tom Fitch

Photography credits @theotherrichard – Richard Davenport

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