Arden Theatre Company
HOME PRESS ROOM SIGN UP FOR UPDATES DIRECTIONS
Arden BlogArden Drama SchoolArden on FacebookArden on TwitterArden on YouTube
ABOUT PRODUCTIONS TICKETS DRAMA SCHOOL SALONS CALENDAR PLAN YOUR VISIT SUPPORT OPPORTUNITIES
Welcome to the Arden Theatre Company blog, where we share behind-the-scenes stories and current happenings with you. You will hear from the Arden staff as well as actors and other visiting artists, and we hope to hear from you, too. If you have an idea for a topic, please post a comment about it. We can't wait to hear what you think!
by Patrick Ressler, Videographer

 

Every night, I have the privilege of watching The Secret Garden up close. Very close. With a video camera, I capture the world beneath the stage—a 360 degree turntable filled with miniature sets made of paper and other finely crafted materials. Throughout the show, we see Mary’s imagination flourish in a world of paper dolls and pop-up books. This conceit led co-conceivers Jorge Cousineau and Terry Nolen to the idea of filming miniature sets live and projecting the images onto a large screen onstage. As the turntable spins, the audience travels with Mary on her journey from India to England and, finally, the Secret Garden.

In "The Secret Garden", a large screen projects live video from the camera filming a turntable below the stage. (Photo: Mark Garvin)

In “The Secret Garden”, a large screen projects live video from the camera filming a turntable below the stage. (Photo: Mark Garvin)

From behind the camera, I think of myself as a storyteller filming the world as Mary remembers it. The world of miniature sets is childlike and playful. At times, the audience can see someone’s fingers in the shot, opening a gate or closing windows. Like a doll’s house, each detail has been carefully crafted to look realistic—down to miniature sconces that light the hallway. A large team of people worked to build the tiny sets, including Scenic & Video Designer Jorge Cousineau, Model Assistant Alicia Crosby, Props Master Chris Haig, and Props Intern Scott McMaster. Every second of video represents the hard work of the set, props and lighting departments.

The camera captures a shot of India.

The camera captures a shot of India, one of many miniature sets on the turntable below the stage.

My favorite moment of video storytelling is our first arrival in Colin’s room. During a storm, the camera travels down a sconce-lit hallway to a foreboding door. As the chorus swells, we see a hand open the door to reveal a bedroom with lightning flashing in the window. Onstage, Mary sees Colin for the first time. In these moments the video becomes a dramatic presence, adding suspense to the onstage action.

Live video is filmed beneath the stage. (Photo: Mark Garvin)

On the right, live video of miniature sets is captured beneath the stage. Pictured: Elisa Matthews as Lily Craven and Bailey Ryon as Mary Lennox. (Photo: Mark Garvin)

A lot of thought and energy goes into every moment of live video. For each movement of the camera, I’ve memorized specifics of how I’m moving the camera unit, panning the camera, zooming, focusing and the speed/duration of all these functions. I’m also thinking about specific moments in the music where my movement will begin and where it will end. With more and more performances under my belt, the specifics of this choreographed “dance” have become fun and familiar.

I’m grateful to be a part of the large team of people who put hard work into each moment of The Secret Garden. When it was time for our first preview performances, I was struck with just how personal and intimate it felt to invite an audience to this show. It felt like we were inviting people to come into our home and explore every room. The orchestra, crew, cast and creative team poured their energy and passion into this project—and for me, it has made The Secret Garden a much more relatable human story. From my seat, I watch Mary find belonging and empowerment every night and lend a hand to create her world. In The Secret Garden, magic is close enough to touch.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

©2009 Arden Theatre Company, 40 N. 2nd St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. For tickets, call 215.922.1122.
Site Search  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Use