Virtual Design in Theatrical Contexts: Live Actors Inhabiting a Virtual Space

By Kirk A Domer and Rob J. Roznowski.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A major public performance experiment surrounding the production of the Tony Award-winning musical, The Who’s Tommy in the virtual theatrical environment is being mounted in April 2009 on the campus of Michigan State University. Through unique partnerships between the Department of Theatre, Department of Telecommunications, Information and Studies and Wharton Center for the Performing Arts, divergent resources will be collected to create unique theatrical design experiences. Virtually updating the “Pinball Wizard” described in the seminal song from the show will include modern gaming associations including more physical interaction between player and virtual environment.

Recent theatrical trends have eschewed traditional scenery for mediated environments. The use of live actors inhabiting a virtual space has become a compelling and necessary step in leading edge performative theatrical design. A commitment to the research and development of virtual theatrical scenography will be achieved in various ways.

The complicated mixture of traditional theatrical research, 3-D modeling computer software, and multi-projector systems in various venues in combination with live actors would become a regular and consistent element of design in both curriculum and production work at Michigan State University. Through curricular advancements, exposure to this swiftly developing genre and unique outreach efforts, the work of faculty and students of Michigan State University will yield a competitive and necessary expertise in virtual theatrical design.

Keywords: Theatre, Media, Design, Virtual, Scenography

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 5, pp.81-94. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.750MB).

Prof. Kirk A Domer

Head of Design, Department of Theatre, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

Kirk Domer is the Head of Design and Associate Chair for the Department of Theatre at Michigan State University in East Lansing. As the Resident Scene Designer for the Ohio Light Opera, Kirk has designed such world premiere operas as James Stuart and Robert Ward’s A Friend of Napoleon and Amanda Jacobs and Lindsay Baker’s Pride and Prejudice. He has also designed the North American premieres of Emmerich Kálmán’s A Soldier’s Promise, The Violet of Montmartre and Autumn Maneuvers. He has designed Scenery and Props for The BoarsHead Professional Theatre, The Madison Repertory Theatre, Eastman School of Music, Williamston Theatre, Mercury Opera, University Theatre, Summer Circle Theatre, Riverwalk Theatre, and Make*a*Circus. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Ashland University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Scene Design from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His book entitled Collaboration in Theatre about the collaboration process between director and designer, co-written with colleague Rob Roznowksi was recently accepted for publication with Palgrave Macmillan.

Prof. Rob J. Roznowski

Head of Acting and Directing, Department of Theatre, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

Rob Roznowski serves as the Head of Acting and Directing in the Department of Theatre at Michigan State University in East Lansing. He has served on the faculties of Marymount Manhattan College, SUNY/Stony Brook, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and Stephens College, where he received the Distinguished Teaching Award conferred by both students and faculty. Rob also served as the National Outreach and Education Coordinator for Actors’ Equity Association. During his time there, he created numerous nationally accepted educational programs and materials used for prospective and established members of the 45,000-member union. As an actor and director, Rob has worked at the Long Wharf Theatre, the Goodspeed Opera House, the Pittsburgh Public Theatre, and Florida Studio Theatre. He has also co-directed, produced and written several award-winning short and feature-length films. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Point Park University and his Master of Fine Arts degree from Ohio State University. His book entitled Collaboration in Theatre about the collaboration process between director and designer, co-written with colleague Kirk Domer was recently accepted for publication with Palgrave Macmillan.

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