National Theatre, London. November 2022
PixelLux’s Creative Director, Nina Dunn, has returned to the National Theatre for a third time to co-design projections with Gino Ricardo Green for Clint Dyer’s ‘revelatory’ production of Othello.
Dyer’s approach centred around bringing the truth of the themes held within Shakesepare’s text into sharp focus but laying bare the playwright’s attempts to highlight both the racism and mysogyny described within the text.
The production seeks to dig deep into the protagonists’ psychology and help the audience to understand the context of his actions through revealing echoes of character’s past and the society that surrounds him.
Video played a key role in highlighting both this pyschological state and the ‘system’ that surrounds and entraps Othello and in creating the space where the action takes place.
Gino and Nina pre-filmed excepts and portraits of Othello and Desdemona which are used as interstitial statements to give an insight into how the image of Desdemona deteriorates in Othello’s mind through the misinformation that Iago feeds him and how this impacts Othello’s own state of mind in the context of his previous life experiences. Live camera was also used within the performance as well as a live record and playback functionality.
The play sets its store out from the start with covers and posters from historical performances projected across the space in a patchwork of the past alongside the production dates written large with a nod to the conscious history that preceeds the play in other artists hands and a hinting at a defiant statement that this production will indeed be something new in the hands of the assembled team and company.
Projection was also used to demarcate the simple, elegant amphitheatre of a space – designed by Chloe Lamford – by sharply highlighting entrances and exits as well as providing an othewroldly and unremittingly hard light in which Iago’s followers live. In addition to this, projection extended the space beyond the physical steps and platforms to lend a sense of asbtract opression, and location by re-using the same architectural elements found within the set reconfigured in a virtual space. Organic elements such as rain, embers and other elemental effects supoprted the drama of the story. The lighting, sound and video were all extremnely closely allied in every effect creating a complete and inescapable world for the action to reside in: both abstract and palpable.
The rig consisted of a combinatioin of Epson 15K and Panasonic 20K projectors totalling 8 in order to gain full coverage of the set. The media server was disguise with sound acvtivation both in-server and additional effects created in Notch.
The show has been recieved extremely well by press and audiences alike and will be streamed in Cinemas by NT Live from 23rd February 2023.
“Clint Dyer’s new production speaks to the play’s murky performance history in its opening optics, perhaps even to the ghost of Olivier’s Othello himself. There are posters of old productions projected on to Chloe Lamford’s spare, contemporary set and a cleaner scrubs the floor. It sets up a conceptual overhaul – a coming clean, of sorts.”
✰✰✰✰ – The Guardian
“a revelatory and relevant production”✰✰✰✰ – Whatsonstage
“Clint Dyer’s transfixing production, the first by a Black director at the National Theatre, has a quality that suggests it will quickly become a classic.”✰✰✰✰ The Independent
“Clint Dyer‘s Othello begins with a bold theatrical prelude. As the audience enter, the stage is washed in a collage of posters from past productions of Othello. Look closely and you’ll see some famous faces; Olivier, Hopkins. Look closer and you’ll see the racist history of blackface that is part and parcel of the play’s performance history. […] His directorial focus is forensic, magnifying the psychodrama at the heart of Shakespeare’s play and turning Othello’s cognitive turmoil inside out with surgical precision. At its core it becomes the story of a black man driven to the limits by a hostile and racist world.”✰✰✰✰ – Broadwayworld
Video Designers – Nina Dunn and Gino ricardo Green
Video Programmer: Daberechi Ukoha-Kalu
Video Engineer – George Jarvis
Set Design – Chloe Lamford
Director – Clint Dyer
Lighting Designer – Jai Morjaria
Sound Design and composition – Ben Grant and Pete Malkin
Co-composer – Sola Akingbola
Movement – Lucie Pankhurst
Costume Design – Michael Vale
Associate Director – Mumba Dodwell
Associate Set Designer – Shankho Chauduri
Full credits available here: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/othello/
Photo Credits: Nina Dunn / Shankho Chaudhury / Johan Persson