The Dream Engine : Arena Stage 1972

Funding request letter by producer Zelda Fichandler, Labor Day 1971. Page 3.

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Designers - Randall Will, Santo Loquasto, Hugh Lester

It is out hope to use visuals in an entirely new way.

Projections and slides are organic to the work, since such images grow naturally out of its dreamlike quality: its nightmare-trance-fixation metaphor. Also, the songs call out for an explosion in sight to match that of sound.

However, we don't want to use projections on flat surfaces for this piece, as Dick Pearlman used in his work with the talented film maker and designer, Ronald Chase. We want to explore the projection of artwork on sculptural forms, in order to create a surround, an encircling environment within which the tribe lives: [handwritten: to create visual collages that will describe a changing cosmo]

Randall Will of Staging Techniques (brochure enclosed if I can reproduce it) is currently advising us on equipment and programming. But the aesthetic aspects of the use of visuals will be in the hands of our director, our designer Santo Loquasto (his last assignment for us was Ionesco's Wipe-Out Games), and a photographer now in the process of being selected. Hugh Lester, our production manager, will be particularly helpful in this process. Under a Ford Foundation travel grant he received while at the Charles Playhouse, he spent several weeks in the laboratory of Josef Svoboda in Prague and was able to observe his techniques in the areas we propose to explore: the use of “light curtains” (beam projectors packed on a single pipe and hung just off 90 degrees) which enable the actors to appear as if out of nowhere; projections on rope, elastic cord (the rope structure can move, giving the illusion of shifting images), projections on black surfaces including scrim, and on one-way plastic mirror, etc.

As far as we know, this kind of image projection has not been done in this country.

To accomplish our goals with as little hit-or-miss as possible, we want to buy a DuKane Projector Programmer of our own for experimentation purposes (cheaper than renting for the length of time we need it) and to have built a model of the theater on a scale of two-three inches to a foot in order to test the materials and accurately determine projection and lighting angles.

We will need from between six to ten pairs of projectors (the number has not yet been determined) divided between standard projectors and 1200 watt modified carousel projectors (the division has not yet been determined). This is separate and distinct from the single Projector Programmer I already mentioned.

We have determined that it would be cheaper to buy than rent these, since we will need them for a long time.

We realise that the purchase of such equipment is not within the interests of Foundations. But since we are not clear at this moment how to fund their purchase, and since if we cannot solve the problem, the whole visual concept will have to be scrapped - a critical loss to the production - we thought we should lay out the problem here.

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