Theatre that gets you wet

DC’s seeing a flood of aquatic entertainment this month, with two of the big names in the area both exploring water stages right now.

First, and perhaps more thematically appropriate to this blog, is Synetic Theatre‘s production of The Tempest. This little behind the scenes video includes some interview footage with the fight choreographer, speaking about working with water stages in fight scenes, something I’d love to try some day:

Synetic’s work is not everyone’s cup of tea, often favoring visuals and atmosphere over idea or writing, but they do fill a dynamic niche. While I haven’t gotten to see this production, I was fortunate enough to catch Metamorphoses (click for review) at Arena Stage earlier this month:

It’s more a series of scenes from Greek mythology than any single story, and it comes with what you’d expect of the source myths: seafaring, transformations, lots of unhappy endings, and some taboo sexual romps. Not appropriate for most kids.


I think it succeeds best when the water becomes a part of the theatrical transformation – just as actors and some sets or props can become different things through theatrical magic, so too can the water, becoming food being shoveled in to a man’s mouth, or an ethereal cosmos for gods to float in. It certainly adds visual flair and energy, as well as a raw elemental presence that compliments the mythical themes of the show.

Film is in general much more likely to be able to take advantage of this kind of atmospheric kinetics to add energy, especially to fight scenes. It’s logistically easier on screen than in person, and you don’t have to juggle the issues of audience splash-zones, as there were some in the audience at Arena stage who were obviously unhappy to get wet, or who were giggling at being splashed when the dramatic action on stage was nothing to laugh at.

For an example of elemental atmospherics adding to a screen fight scene, here’s the best that comes to mind for me:

Incidentally, if I can reference an earlier post, this is exactly the kind of thing I’d LOVE to see in Peter Jackson’s high frame rate 3D.


Plenty more I should be blogging about, but not time… but if and when there is, expect more about some new props, visits to other departments, more shows seen, and upcoming workshops!



One Comment

  1. Posted March 1, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Looks like Synetic is doing some fun projection stuff as well for the magic in Tempest:

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