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Technology in Stagecraft and Storytelling with Robert Lepage

International stage director/actor/impresario Robert Lepage visited MIT to accept the McDermott award for artistic accomplishment. He and Peter Gelb, the general director of the New York Metropolitan Opera sat down to discuss Lepage’s work. Much of the discussion, which included images and video, centered on the enormous production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle at the Met, a project Gelb and Lepage had just recently completed. Lepage created a device of many ‘planks’ called simply ‘the machine’. The planks were controlled individually and together with sophisticated projection technology created a moving, literally and emotionally, platform for the performance. Lepage argued that technology should be used to magnify the effects of the actors and needs to be at the service of story telling. The multidisciplinary nature of his theatre work also showed how film and theatre technologies were converging. While Lepage has worked on technologically complex pieces such as the Ring and his work for Cirque de Soliel, he also emphasized the need to keep in play much simpler and older theatrical conventions and showed work that used simple shadow puppets to tell a story.

He also is the artistic director of the Image Mill – a huge architectural projection on grain silos in Quebec City. He discussed how the technology for that related to the projections he creates in the theatre and how it became more sophisticated every year, including animation and three dimensional imagery.

Lepage also discussed his most recent work, including building a new theatre in Quebec City and a new production of the opera ‘The Tempest’ by composer Thomas Ades. His work is showing the way of combining theatre and film - one wonders if architecture may be the next artistic form for this innovative mind.

Attached are several images of Lepage's work, the first shows the set for his production of Wagner's 'Ring', the second is an image from his work 'Eonnagata' and the third is from his architectural projection, 'The Image Mill'.

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