Interview with Ian Jackson

May 07, 2009

How do you see multimedia as functioning within theatre? How does it change the experience of the audience? Does it always work?
 Multimedia functions in theatre like a set or a prop or lights. It is there to help tell the story. It is always about the story.
 What’s it like to incorporate video into a script?
 How do you approach a project like Buddy?
 Darrin, Brad and I approached Buddy in workshops with the idea to see how large scale video would work with a story that doesn’t take place in any particular location. I originally thought the video would be more about background shapes and human forms. Much like distant memories. I think what we have here is what happens in a musical. When a character cannot express themselves in another way, they break into song. We have just taken that idea and turned up the volume.
 Do you typically feel as though you have a vision for the entire show once you have read a script, or do you find yourself visiting many possibilities before settling on one?
 Most of the time, I see how a show will look in a finished form. Now that doesn’t mean I get my way. Projected media can be overwhelming to an audience, so I will work with the director to blend the visual elements into the overall look of the play.
 Buddy has been a highly collaborative experience between yourself, director Bradley Moss designer Paul Bezaire, and playwright Darrin Hagen – how did this change your process?
 We use the word organic a lot, but in this case it truly was the only way to produce this show. Normally I would take the script and notes from the director, then go and build something to show everybody. In the organic process Darrin, Brad, and Paul get to watch me walking around scratching my head, sweating, and swearing while I try and figure out how to make something work.
 Buddy spans numerous settings, both geographically and chronologically – do you feel like the multi-media experience lends itself to this, or is it still challenging to portray?
 I talked before about trying to blend video into the production so it only stands out if you want it to. In the case of Buddy we want the video to be overwhelming. This forces the audience to try take everything in when watching the show, much like the first time you watch a 3D film. I hope the audience gives in to the experience. This way they can be transported to whatever time or location we need them to go to.
 Contrary to the live webcast, with which you are very familiar, what is it like to have the actors in control of some of the live camera feed? How does this change the show for you?
 With Buddy, video is integral to the script and to the telling of the story. Much like dance, the actors have to explore how these characters would use video, and then find their own choreography to tell the story.
 In reading the script, were you able to connect with the characters’ lives? Did you share any similar experiences growing up?
 I think that Buddy has layers of relevance that will connect with most men – and may connect with most women, too.