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The Who's Tommy

by Pete Townshend and Des McAnuff

Projection / Video / Media Design

The University of Tennessee Knoxville, Clarence Brown Theatre 2009

Director Casey Sams
Set Designer Chris Pickart
Costume Designer Emily Strickland
Lighting Design Kenton Yeager
Moving Light Designer and Assistant Projection Designer Catherine Girardi
Sound Designer Michael Ponder

The production concept was to start the play as a 1960's rock concert, and then grow more technologically advanced as the play progressed, until at the height of Tommy's fame the production would feel like a Justin Timberlake concert. Projections started by looking like a slide show, then grew to moving images and effects like the 60's oil light shows. In Act II, we started introducing video, both recorded and live, and ended up with a camera man following Tommy around projecting his feed on Jumbotrons on either side of the stage. Lighting did the same, by starting with static lighting instruments and adding in moving lights and effects as the play progressed. Then for the finale, we stripped away all technology, which had become overwhelming, and left the stage bare with just the actors and their powerful voices to carry us away in "Listening to You."

The projection setup consisted of a rear projection cyc, a small screen behind the band in the prologue, two jumbotrons on either side of the stage which flew in during Act II, and a bank of TVs which flew in during the TV section and remained until the finale. All sources were run by Dataton's Watchout, which controlled the imagery, video and live video feeds.

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