This is a long one, but well worth it. On August 16th, 2014, I traveled to Ottawa, Ontario for the Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology's annual trade show Rendez-Vous 2014. There, I led a panel discussion about the use of projections in theatre design with Scott Spidel, Eric Mongerson, Ben Chaisson and Beth Kates. Thankfully, CITT had booked our discussion for 3 hours and despite the fact that we thought we would be done early, we went right to the 3 hour mark. It was a very comprehensive discussion as you will see (this is part 1 of 2!). Bios and links for the show are below.
Scott Spidell, is an assistant professor in production design and technical direction at Texas Lutheran University. He has been a professional theatre artist and craftsperson for over thirty years. Over that time, he has worked in almost every aspect of theatre, film and television—from driving and loading tour trucks, writing scripts for TV shorts, working sound on a Papal tour, serving as a tailor's apprentice, performing as an Equity actor, and getting shot by Charles Bronson— to working as a professional carpenter, scenographer, video designer, camera assistant, lighting designer, props master, producer, and union stage manager.
He has been an active director of the Ontario Section of the Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology (CITT) and the president of the board of Inter Arts Matrix, a non-profit that fosters the development of integrated art. Scott has also taught at the Universities of Waterloo, Guelph, Windsor, Ryerson and Fanshawe College.
He last designed the lights, set, and video for The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui by Bertolt Brecht for the red light district theatre in Toronto and the lighting for Mirror – a chamber opera for soprano and visual artist for the Open Ears Festival in Kitchener.
Scott has a Diploma of Applied Arts in Technical Theatre from Niagara College, a Bachelor of Environmental Studies with a minor in Drama from University of Waterloo, and an MFA in Performance Design from York University in Toronto.
Eric Mongerson worked in and studied theatre in the United States for ten years before moving toMontréal in 1980. In addition to serving as full professor at Concordia University he works as set/lighting designer and technical director outside the university. He received his MFA from Humboldt State University in 1978.
He received Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) funding as a co-investigator with Dr. Stephen Snow on “Performance-based Research: Changing Perspectives on Developmental Disabilities through Ethnodrama”.
He has taught set and lighting design, stage management, theatre administration and theatre technology.
He has consulted for Scénoplus and Cirque du Soleil on equipment installation and theatrical problem solving. He has designed lighting for many productions across North America. At Concordia he has served as Technical Director, Theatre Manager, Production Coordinator, Design for the Theatre Coordinator and Chair of the Department from 1993 - 2002.
His students have designed for, Broadway, Cirque du Soleil and Stratford. He has been on the board of directors of the Canadian Institute for Theatre Technology / L’Institut Canadien des Technologies Scénographiques (CITT / ICTS) and is currently on the board of the Centre Québécois de L’Institut Canadien des Technologies Scénographiques (CQICTS). He is a member of the Association des Professionnels des Arts de la Scène du Quèbec (APASQ). He received the Dieter Penzhorn Award in 2011 from CITT and the MECCA award for best lighting design in Montreal in 2010.
Ben Chaisson and Beth Kates and Playground Studios
Ben Chaisson and Beth Kates are the co-creative directors of Playground Studios, a firm dedicated to creating beautiful productions for the entertainment industry. Beth and Ben are award winning designers of projection, lighting, sound, costume and set for dance, theatre, opera, rock n roll and many other live events.
Most recently their interactive installation The ToyBox was awarded the CITT Award for Technical Merit, their newest installation Night Light Travels saw 1400 participants at this year’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, and Ben was awarded the 2010 Pauline McGibbon Award for emerging designers. They and their work have toured the world. Theatrical highlights include MacHomer, Bigger Than Jesus (Dora Award for Lighting), Hardsell, The Highest Step In The World, Anne of Green Gables, Spin, The Synesthesia Project with Steven McCarthy, Brimful of Asha with Ravi Jain and many more.
Beth and Ben lead masterclasses in Projection and Scenographic Design across the country. They are currently in development with Playwrights Workshop Montreal to create a series of in-depth projection workshops geared towards established theatre artists, with the intention of helping them gain a deeper understanding of this growing medium. Beth has lead masterclasses for students at Humber College, Bishop Strachan School and The National Theatre School, and Canadian Stage.
Check them out at www.playgroundstudios.ca