University theatre tech students display imaginative projects

LOGAN – Back in the Dark Ages — that is, the mid-1960s — self-proclaimed media maven Marshall McLuhan breathlessly proclaimed that “the medium is the message.”

Back then, that supposedly earth-shattering revelation didn’t make much sense. But a bravura display of multi-media techniques by advanced design students from the Theatre Arts Department at Utah State University this past weekend may have confirmed McLuhan’s far-fetched prediction.

Under the direction of Professor of Lighting and Scenic Design Bruce Duerden, the production on Oct. 1 and 2 was dubbed Introspection: Seeing Things in a Different Light. The free show featured the imaginative digital creations of eight gifted theater tech students.

The goal of Introspection, according to Associate Professor Richie Call, was to give those design students the artistic freedom to display a full range of digital skills that are not always required for typical USU stage productions.

Interestingly enough, Introspection was performed at the Caine Lyric Theatre in downtown Logan, which would seem to the university’s least likely venue for a high-tech show. But the students met that challenge by projecting their designs on multiple screens and a jigsaw monolith that was the sole feature on the theater’s stage.

One of the most complex and dramatic of their projects was entitled “Missing You” by Jess Wallace. Adapted from work she did previously for the university’s 2020 production of “She Kills Monsters” by Qui Nguyen, Wallace incorporated beautifully hand drawn elements into a projected tribute to her own departed sister.

In “Welcome to Jazz Night,” designer Alexis Woodward digitally imagined four musicians performing the catchy Leslie Odom Jr. tune “Stronger Magic.”

Hyeonah Choi created “Space Trip,” in which an imaginary space ship travels through an array of interstellar splendors.

Other digital designs in Introspection included “It Might Be Time” by Brian Garrick; “BBY” by Hannah Whorton; “Christmas Eve/Sarajevo” by Arden Fayard; “Technospection” by Nathan Davis; and “The Chain” by Sera Shearer.

Following the all-too-brief digital presentation, Duerden and the design students met with members of the audience to discuss the inspiration for their projects and the techniques they used to create them.

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