Associate Video Designer
Theatre Royal Stratford East
Video Designer - Nina Dunn
Director - Kirsty Housley
Designer - Peter McKintosh
Lighting Designer - Josh Pharo
Sound Designer - Melanie Wilson
In mid-2021, I was lucky enough to work with Nina Dunn as her associate for a show at Theatre Royal Stratford East. Extinct is a one woman show about climate change, straddling a variety of styles, ranging from a Ted Talk style direct address with lots of facts and figures, to immersive verbatim readings of real stories. We had two projection surfaces; the full floor and the ceiling which gave us lots of space to fill. We also utilised live camera to create video feedback loops to illustrate the the climate-related loops the planet is in.
Nina and I were both very present in the rehearsal room and I found out how valuable that was especially in the first week or so when initial ideas are being batted around in terms of blocking and staging. Being able to chime in with how video can add to the effect they are after or even develop an idea centred around video itself is such an exciting stage in the process. A moment where I feel having the video design team in the room was really useful was during the iceberg moment, where the lead is describing the melting of the polar ice caps, we projected slowly melting icebergs onto the floor which she in turn stepped on, until she was precariously perched on a chair to avoid being submerged by the water, much like that iconic polar bear photo which often is circulated. Developing that idea would have been much harder if we were only communicating through rehearsal notes and emails, and I feel would have made a much less cohesive stage image, and I am so glad they managed to get a production shot that does it justice.
Another thing I learnt was how important previsualisation is, so you can view your design in the context of the set as a whole. I had never done this in the past, mostly because I thought it would need some really complicated CAD software which I would struggle to use, and would probably be rather expensive. Instead Nina showed me how to do it all within Photoshop and After Effects, two programs I already had a good base knowledge of and aren’t too costly. After learning this process I have adopted it into my own way of working, it is so key for testing ideas and Nina’s process for doing it is very efficient.
Watching Nina work solidified my passion for video design and clarified what exactly I need to improve on in order to make it happen. I also really enjoyed being an associate again under a more official title- although I did some content creation on Declan’s behalf, I was never an official associate. I really enjoyed the process and absorbing lots of knowledge from a well established and extremely talented video designer. I am very keen to undertake more associate roles in the future, as I feel its just such a great way to learn and develop my skills.
Production Shots - The Other Richard