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  • Projections Onstage: Don’t Wait. You Will Never Have the Newest Technology
    Projections Onstage: Don't Wait. You Will Never Have the Newest Technology https://youtu.be/8blclBLKc0g Transcript This is a design from 2011 for the musical Pippin. Director Morgan Murphy wanted to keep the medieval setting of the show, but wanted a technological overlay like a rock concert. I showed him pictures of a complex of buildings in Pittsburgh called PPG place. It was designed by Philip Johnson and John Burgee. ...
  • A Simple Fireplace Onstage
    A Simple Fireplace Onstage https://youtu.be/wM90OpeLwBs Transcript There are times when you are doing a show when you need to make a fireplace. You just need a good fireplace, not some special effects masterpiece. Maybe something simple that you can burn a letter in. You can make a good fireplace with ordinary scene-shop materials. You might start with a block of styrofoam. ...
  • Low Tech Solutions for Responsive Media on Stage
    Low Tech Solutions for Responsive Media on Stage https://youtu.be/VsDTxj4nfIs Transcript: Today I want to talk about some low-tech methods for achieving interactive projection media. This is BlackTrax, an amazing system of sensors that tracks very small transmitters in 3D space with lights and projections. You can track performers or scenery so that moving lights and projections respond to movement, even pure improvisation. A few years back, we wanted to explore ...
  • Casters: Big and Small
    Casters:  Big and Small https://youtu.be/XZ5NVes86cM There is a common conversation about casters that I hear in theatres. TRANSCRIPT “For that short scene, the one with that thing in it, let’s just put it on a wagon.””But I don’t want it to feel like a wagon, so make it as low as possible.””Use the smallest casters that we have.””Maybe even make the wagon extra thin so we can ...
  • Changing Scenery with Story Book Panels
    Changing Scenery with Story Book Panels https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=no1haJPCWt0&feature=youtu.be Transcript This is a set design from 2006 for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. It was for Kearsarge Arts Theatre (KAT) Company, a summer children’s theatre program in New Hampshire. They produced in a space with no flies and limited wing space. I broke down the settings into three categories. Everything happened, in general, in either the village, the ...
  • Rigging a Projector to an Electric
    Rigging a Projector to an Electric I got asked yesterday about the best way to mount a projector to an electric over a stage. This is not hard to do, but it gets a little murky when you try to research it online. The projector industry is aimed primarily at mounting projectors to a ceiling in a classroom or a conference room. Projectors ...
  • Deer Netting and Projections
    Deer Netting and Projections I’m looking back right now to a summer season I did in 2015. It was two shows: Pippin and Man Of La Mancha. They were running in rep together at Jean’s Playhouse in Lincoln, New Hampshire. The set had some minor adjustments between the two shows. My specific portfolio listings for ...
  • Plymouth State University: Performance at the Prague Quadrennial 2019
    Plymouth State University: Performance at the Prague Quadrennial 2019 This moment is from a sequence we called “Waterplay.’ Photo 2019 by Richard Finkelstein. Brilliant Being, an original multimedia performance production,created collaboratively by Plymouth State University faculty members Paul Mroczka (writer/director), Amanda Whitworth (choreographer), Jonathan Santore (composer), and Matt Kizer (visual designer). Performed by Sydney Moquin (The Brilliant Being), Emily Jaworski (The Voice Being), and ...
  • My Son and I at the Exhibition of Countries and Regions
    My Son and I at the Exhibition of Countries and Regions Sixty different countries from every continent, except Antarctica, have participated in the Exhibition of Countries and Regions at the Prague Quadrennial for 2019. This means that each nation or region has a large space allocated to them within the Industrial Palace to express something about design for performance or space in a way that represents their culture. Each ...
  • The National Theatre at Prague: A Quick Overview
    The National Theatre at Prague: A Quick Overview This photo was taken by my wife as we sat at the terrace of the Cafe Restaurant Střelecky Ostrov (which I highly recommend), looking across the Vltava River. This is the National Theatre at Prague. It’s one of the symbols of national identity, and a big part of European culture. The National Theatre in Prague began as an idea in 1844. ...
  • BRILLIANT BEING
    BRILLIANT BEING at the Prague Quadrennial Attention, attendees at the Prague Quadrennial! WHERE: Divadlo X10 Charvátova 39/10, 110 00 Nové Město WHEN: Thursday, June 13, 8:30 pm In the PQ program book, you will find it on Page 186. Brilliant Being, at 20:30, at the X10 Theatre. https://youtu.be/gUCQPOFlKFM This is a short, breathtaking piece, about 40 minutes long. Originally produced in the United States, it is ...
  • Making Projection Media for Disney’s The Little Mermaid
    Making Projection Media for Disney's The Little Mermaid https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMY0Hg3wJwM&fbclid=IwAR0GmIUX47TMOccxyVbqQxREpc5QeXcqhMrshCRqskDtasKZQsm1ma087Yw In this video, I discuss media that I created for a production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid by the Educational Theatre Collaborative ETC in Plymouth New Hampshire at Plymouth State University. The process of creating media for projection on stage is discussed by examining the step-by-step process of creating this media. © 2019 Matt Kizer LLC All Rights ...
  • Simple Design Choices and Stability of Basic Scenery
    Simple Design Choices and Stability of Basic Scenery https://youtu.be/B070QFX9Nl0 Transcript There’s a common trap that captures some people building scenery – especially novices. Maybe the drama program is run by a solitary English or Music teacher; someone who does everything for the show. “Okay, students! We don’t have time for anything fancy. Let’s just get these walls up.” “There’s so much else to get done, we’re going to keep this simple!” The ...
  • The Theatre Hierarchy
    The Theatre Hierarchy This is a theatre hierarchy chart that I made for a class in about 1999. I have used it for several classes since then. In 2013, I contributed it to a open-education resource site, BroadwayEducators.com. It has gotten picked up by a lot of people since then. It comes up readily on Google for ...
  • An Awesome Fake Piano
    An Awesome Fake Piano Making that piano light weight, wireless, playable, and grand. Theatre is story telling. It is vital that the audience understand the words that are spoken or sung by performers. Words advance the action. When there is also an orchestra, sound gets complicated. Microphones help, but there is deep magic for mixing a stage full of lavaliere microphones against ...
  • Dataton Watchout Basics
    Dataton Watchout Basics I have recently had someone reach out to me for some basic information on Dataton Watchout. I love this system. It has some fundamental differences from other video projection operating systems. This can make it a little difficult for some people to understand at first. This is especially true for non-English speakers. ...
  • Making that media look like you’re drawing it in real time…
    Making that media look like you're drawing it in real time... In 2012, I designed a production of Sylvia at Auburn University. The design included scenery, lighting, and projections. The visuals were all inspired by cover art from The New Yorker. You can read about that here. The projected media had an illustrative quality to it that mimicked the cover art. We took this a ...
  • Amazing Spiderman Design Tricks
    Amazing Spiderman Design Tricks Sometimes you have a few skilled people building your designs. Sometimes, you have a lot of unskilled labor instead. Design choices can play to your strengths and get the most out of the shop and the crew that you have. In 2001, I worked on a production called Ananse the Spiderman and the Golden Box of ...
  • The Director’s Playground
    The Director's Playground https://youtu.be/w32k-l2-V08 Transcript: A long time I ago, I worked in a little family-owned furniture store. They sold unfinished wooden furniture. Really nice folks. There was a sort of a large alcove in the store that was filled with all kinds of wooden stools. The stools came in three standard heights:18 inches, 24 inches, and 30 inches. There ...
  • Light Boxes, Gobos, and Metallic Paint
    Light Boxes, Gobos, and Metallic Paint Low Tech Windows that Light Up In 2010, I was the lighting designer on a production of Company by George Furth and Stephen Sondheim. The set designer was Marni Balint. The venue was our three-sided thrust space that behaves a bit like a black box. Company at the Silver Center for the Arts in 2010. Marni wanted ...
  • What is the Prague Quadrennial?
    What is the Prague Quadrennial? https://youtu.be/mcQFnVFTmQE Transcript: I am often asked, “What is the Prague Quadrennial?” This is a not an official video of the Prague Quadrennial. I am just a regular participant. I believe in their mission. The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design & Space is a performing arts festival that was begun in 1967. It is the largest performance design event in the world. It happens every ...
  • Jack Knife Wagons
    Jack Knife Wagons Set changes should look easy. The audience should never feel sympathy for the people moving things around on stage. It would be a rare show in which it would be appropriate to see running crew exerting themselves. There are a lot of factors that will go into choosing the means by which scenery will move. A big one ...
  • Transparent Columns
    Transparent Columns Sometimes memorable designs come from simple, bold choices. This design is for Orpheus in the Underworld by Jacques Offenbach. This is a comic opera. It is an irreverent, risque, and ridiculous parody of classical opera and Greek mythology. For our production, we included white acoustic clouds that doubled as projection surfaces. ...
  • 51 Shades of Grey: How We See Light and Dark
    51 Shades of Grey: How We See Light and Dark https://youtu.be/NuHW3OAHfEk Video transcript: Let’s start out with a projection screen. Could we dim the lights, please? Thank you. Let’s look at a projection. This is The Starry Night, by Vincent Van Gogh, 1889. Maybe you have heard of it. Excuse me, it’s still a little bright in here. Could we close the blinds? Thank you. Let’s take ...
  • The Creative Team: Leaving the Comfort Zone
    The Creative Team:  Leaving the Comfort Zone In April of 2018, members of several groups collaborated at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire in the United States.   They engaged in a workshop production of A Dream Play, by Swedish playwright August Strindberg.   Jump to video Some of the creative team had been brought together originally through The International Organization of Scenographers, Theatre Architects ...
  • Projections on Stage Part III: Choices about Screens
    Projections on Stage Part III: Choices about ScreensAnything that reflects light – even just a little bit – can be a screen. The bigger question is what makes a good screen. And before we can answer that, we should ask a more specific question: for a specific use, what would be the most appropriate screen? Some basic variations on screen types include: Front projection vs. rear projection White screens vs. black screens ...
  • Projections on Stage Part II: Making Good Use of Ordinary Projectors
    Projections on Stage Part II: Making Good Use of Ordinary ProjectorsDesign the set around the screens It is easy to think of projections as being just the background behind the set. An important thing to consider is that this is just one of many ways that you can use projections on stage. Let’s start there, though, because that is the most prominent way that they tend to be used. The cyclorama is ...
  • Projections on Stage Part I: How do I make them brighter?
    Projections on Stage Part I: How do I make them brighter?I’m not saying I do, but I am not saying that I do not. In my home, on my breakfast table, I may, or I may not have a gun that shoots butter. If I did have such a thing, it would have a large plastic bellows that you could slam your fist down onto. ...
  • WSD2017 Workshop RECONNECT Series
    WSD2017 Workshop RECONNECT SeriesRECONNECT is a six hours long artistic game during which we will strive to create a living and breathing translation of spatial potentials through human bodies. Starting with the reception of a plain narrative, translating it into the architectural – human formations and awaking those through light and movement, the participants will inevitably change their perception of space and get ...
  • WMUR: Brilliant Being
    WMUR: Brilliant BeingA performance at Plymouth State University that combines dance, video games, and an adventure. We head behind the scenes of “Brilliant Being” to see how it is redefining theater and storytelling. https://www.wmur.com/article/friday-october-14th-brilliant-being/5081443
  • Around the PQ – Tribes and Plague Rats
    Around the PQ – Tribes and Plague RatsIn the early 1900s, Australia suffered wave after wave of bubonic plague, delivered by trading ships infested with rats. A group of performers commented on the way that the rats of England traveled outward, colonizing the world, and spreading disease. As a part of the PQ Tribes series, The National Institute of Dramatic Art, Australia costumed a ...
  • Around the PQ – The Modalities of Exhibitions
    Around the PQ – The Modalities of ExhibitionsThe international and student exhibitions at the Prague Quadrennial belong to a niche when discussing genres of art. Even in Europe, where spatial installations are a little more prevalent than in the United States, the idea of conceptually creating a space to be experienced in a museum setting is still not main-stream. Anyone in the general population knows ...
  • Around the PQ – Hungarian Exhibit: Donor for Promotheus
    Around the PQ – Hungarian Exhibit: Donor for PromotheusPromotheus is, in Greek Mythology, a Titan. He stole fire and delivered it to mankind, in defiance of the will of Zeus. As punishment for this crime, he was chained to a rock. Every day, his liver was eaten by an eagle, after which it grew back, because of his immortality. In these pictures, you see ...
  • Soda Bottle Balustrade
    Soda Bottle BalustradeI was asked for a curved balustrade unit that could be moved around the stage by performers. This did not want to be simple wooden spindles. It really needed to be the kind of big, cement balustrade that would be present at an upscale hotel on the Mediterranean in France. This particular season is short ...
  • Cyprus Mail: Controlling projection
    Cyprus Mail: Controlling projectionBy Maria Gregoriou From Friday, American theatre designer, lighting designer and video artist Matt Kizer will be giving a four-day seminar on interactive video projections in the areas of theatre, dance and performing arts. The seminar, which will be in English, will cover both theory and practice, including the history of projections on stage, the basics of projectors, designing scenery with screens ...
  • Theatrical Organization of Cyprus Four-Day Seminar
    Theatrical Organization of Cyprus  Four-Day SeminarΑ four-day seminar led by the accomplished American theatre designer, lighting designer and video artist Mr. Matt Kizer 23 November 2015 The Cyprus Centre of Scenographers, Theatre Architects and Technicians (CY.C.S.TA.T.) in collaboration with the Theatrical Organization of Cyprus (TH.O.C.) and the Plymouth State University (USA) organizes a fourth-day seminar led by the accomplished American theatre designer, lighting designer and video artist ...
  • Shaping Space: Dance and Technology
    Shaping Space: Dance and TechnologyThis was a lecture-workshop presented in Studio  Theatre at Plymouth State University.  I worked with Amanda Whitworth, Director of Dance.   Together, we presented a series of dance pieces that incorporated interactive projections that moved with her as the dancer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yj11A7pKFnk
  • The Callboard
    The CallboardArt & Ethics in the Internet Age by Matt Kizer   Among many things, I am a Professor at a beautiful little university, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. One of the classes I teach is about dealing with technology in our profession.   We cover a lot in there.   One thing we return to over and over, though, is the importance ...
  • How Do I Get Started?
    How Do I Get Started?I was recently working as a guest designer at Auburn, University in Alabama. As a part of a fairly casual conversation during a work-call onstage, an undergraduate set-design student by the name of Sarah asked me a very simple question: “How did you get started as a Set Designer?”
  • Art from Nothing
    Art from Nothing“Compromise” is a very ugly word for beginning artists. We don’t want to compromise our vision. This is true for designers, directors, and every other artist involved in the process. A great production team knows that if the collaboration is on the mark, nobody compromises. Instead of anyone giving up ...