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Reviewed by:
  • Gin & "It."
  • Johnathon D. Boyd
Gin & "It." Created and directed by Reid Farrington. Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH. 7 March 2010.

Artists frequently utilize media and film in live theatre as tools for creative expression, and innovative [End Page 684] productions such as Reid Farrington's Gin & "It" demonstrate how technology provides new ways of thinking about adaptation and the role of the theatre technician. Farrington took on multiple roles, working as both a director and designer, to show that designers and technicians possess a unique voice and the desire to tell a story. In addition, Farrington created a multi-layered adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock's film Rope that functions as a metatheatrical commentary on the process of adaptation. This production demonstrates how technicians might be utilized as actors, and serves as an example of how an adapted work alters audience perception to create new perspectives.

Developed at the 3LD Art & Technology Center, the Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, and the Wexner Center for the Arts's creative residency program, Gin & "It" received its world premiere in the performance space at the Wexner Center for the Arts. This exceptional and distinctive production originated from the desire to intersect live theatre with Hitchcock's Rope. As Farrington related to me in a post-show interview, he received a copy of the film as a gift and immediately felt a connection between his own artistic goals and Hitchcock's film. He began developing his production by designing software and planning the timing of sequences from Rope that might be incorporated into the narrative of a live-action performance. This inventive approach is one that Farrington has cultivated over time. He has worked on similar theatrical experiments as a part of the Wooster Group, contributing to such shows as To You the Birdie!, Brace Up!, Poor Theatre, House/Lights, and Who's Your Dada?! and producing the video, software, and editing for the company's production of Hamlet in 2007.

With Gin & "It," Farrington built on his previous knowledge and experience, using eight projectors rather than the single projector utilized for Hamlet, and moved beyond simply creating discourse through the juxtaposition of image and performance to developing a production in which the performers communicate with and against the projected narrative to create a new discourse with flawless precision and timing. As both director and designer, Farrington created a production concept in which the technical elements drew attention to themselves. The actor/technicians both created a backstage or behind-the-scenes world of the play, and then disrupted it to focus the audience's attention on the process of creating that world. To do this, the actor/ technicians used interruptions, frantic movement, and occasional breaks in the action. Midway through the play, a musical dance number broke up the action, referencing dance breaks often included in theatre productions so that actor/technicians can set up another scene. Farrington used the interlude in his show to comment on how technicians frequently work backstage during these moments in a performance. With all the abrupt shifts and transitions, the actor/technicians adopted an improvisational style that felt natural and seamless.

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Karl Allen, Keith Foster, Christopher Loar, and Tim McDonough create Gin & "It."(Photo: Paula Court.)

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Karl Allen, Keith Foster, Christopher Loar, and Tim McDonough create Gin & "It."(Photo: Paula Court.)

Beyond this unique performance style, Gin & "It" provided multiple levels of understanding regarding how an audience receives information and interprets the performance. As the live actor/technicians moved onstage, they created and manipulated the frame of the projected film at varying degrees of depth; the edited film, combined with the rhythms and melodies created by the live actor/technicians onstage, produced an intersection of rhythmic counterpoints. Within the text of the play, however, we see that life is not always perfect or harmonious; every so often, the characters onstage missed their mark, questioned one another, and reacted to "mistakes." There was even an offstage video operator who interrupted the action to make adjustments or direct the actor/technicians to move on to another [End Page 685] scene. Attention to...


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