Creatives Commentary: Video Designer Douglas O'Connell on Sunset Boulevard

Mon 1 Jun 2020

Douglas O’Connell, Video Designer for the Made at Curve production of Sunset Boulevard, on the role that video has to play in the symphony of theatre.

I love this photo from Sunset Boulevard because, more than anything, it joyfully demonstrates the playfulness of theatre making. Additionally, as a video and projection designer it articulates the ambition I seek for all productions. In this moment, like any great moment in theatre, every discipline works in tandem; actor, design, light, video, movement and direction, all the mechanics, are here completely exposed, to not only embrace the romanticism of movie making required for the narrative, but to demonstrate theatre as pure symphony. No discipline takes precedence here but instead everything works in unison to help construct the scene. As video is the relatively newer discipline in theatre, it is often viewed as peripheral or as a distracting add-on — but instead, when used well, it should add an additional and unique language, texture and colour to a production.

I love cinema because it transports me, but when I get sucked into a movie I can easily forget the mechanics. Theatre on the other hand, for me, works best when the mechanics are exposed before an audience’s eyes, but like childhood, we disregard the logic, and instead choose to play. I love working in video as it allows me to create spaces and images that can widen the performance space and bring a different non physical perception. Designing video allows me to use the language of cinema which I love. However, instead of trying to manipulate what you see, I give the audience another tool in which to play.