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Knifedge designs virtual world on stage for UK revival of Pippin

Knifedge designs virtual world on stage for UK revival of Pippin


Hit Broadway musical opens at The Menier Chocolate Factory, London.

Computer gaming meets live theatre in an imaginative new production of the hit Broadway musical Pippin, which has just opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory in London.

Directed and choreographed by Mitch Sebastian, this new production features set design, projection content, animations and visual engineering by award-winning production designer Timothy Bird and a 10-strong team at his London-based creative agency, Knifedge.

Pippin is a darkly humorous coming of age story, originally set in an historical world when it was first performed on Broadway winning five Tony awards.

The Menier Chocolate Factory's new high concept production updates the story to a contemporary, virtual world, where Pippin's ‘ticket to an extraordinary life' is played out as a computer game live on stage.

Whilst director Mitch Sebastian has incorporated Bob Fosse's original Tony award-winning routines into his production, this version of Pippin combines new visual technologies with live performance to bring the show into the 21st century.

Tim Bird said: “In designing the multimedia content for the production, we've drawn inspiration from computer games and films such as Tron. To achieve the desired results, we have collaborated closely from the outset with the director, Mitch Sebastian as well as lighting designer Ken Billington, costume designer Jean-Marc Puissant, sound designer Gareth Owen, artistic director of the Menier Chocolate Factory, David Babani, and with Stephen Schwartz himself.”

From a technical perspective, Knifedge has used five Panasonic 6k projectors and two DL Moving Head projectors (supplied by XL Video) to throw its creations onto a simple, apparently concrete set. The video content is supplied by two Catalyst media servers, and controlled by a Grand MA lighting desk. Clever use of blinding light, permeable set walls, hidden access points and 3D animations of the actors create stunning special effects, with players seeming to appear magically on stage.

Knifedge's Timothy Bird has previously worked with the Menier Chocolate Factory as Projection Designer for the critically-acclaimed Sunday in the Park with George, which won multiple awards for Best Design, awarded jointly to Timothy and to Set and Costume Designer David Farley.

Creative agency Knifedge has worked on a wide range of projection design projects recently including Snow Patrol's performance for the BBC's Children in Need Rocks concert in Manchester, a 10-month tour for American singer-songwriter Josh Groban, and animated projections for West End show “Backbeat”, the story of the birth of the Beatles.

Tim Bird added: “At Knifedge, our aim is to create powerful media content that makes audiences stop and go “wow”. Content which goes way beyond people's expectations, touches them emotionally and prompts powerful reactions.”

Pippin runs at the Menier Chocolate Factory until 25th February 2012.


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