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7270 The Lifespan of a Fact, Pictured L to R, Bobby Cannavale and Cherry Jones, Photograph by Peter Cunningham, 2018.jpg Peter Cunningham

By Design: Lifespan Of A Fact, Projections By Lucy McKinnon

Lucy McKinnon designed the projections for Lifespan Of A Fact, the first Broadway show to have an all-female design team, which also includes set designer Mimi Lien, lighting designer Jen Schriever, sound designer Palmer Hefferan, and costume designer Linda Cho. Directed by Leigh Silverman, the world premiere of this new play runs through January 13 at Studio 54 in New York City. The plot centers on the fact checking of a magazine article, based on an essay, about a teenage suicide, an interesting take on truth in journalism.

Read about the lighting design here, and check out the Q&A on projections below.

Live Design: What does it mean to you to be part of Broadway's first all female design team?

Lucy McKinnon: Working with and being part of the first all-female design team on Broadway was like a gift given to me, and the rest of the team, by our director, Leigh Silverman. Before Lifespan, it had been a very, very long time since I’d gotten to work with a group of all female designers. The last time was when I was in high school, volunteering my time at WOW Cafe Theater on the lower east side. I joined the WOW women’s collective as a young punk lighting designer, but I did my first video designs there, and learned pretty quickly that I was much better at making movies and animations for theater than I was at designing lights. Women gave me my first opportunities to experiment with design and trusted me to make shows. Without their support and encouragement, I would not be doing this today. But, since then, I haven’t had that many opportunities to work alongside women. Lifespan was a first for me: It was Broadway’s first all-female design team, but it was also my first time working with this many women on a professional level. It reminded me how much I like working with women, but also underlined how underrepresented we are in theater. 

LD: Gear and rental shop?

LMK: I worked with Art Lavis at 4Wall Entertainment. We used four 15k Epson laser projectors and ran the show off Dataton Watchout.

LD: How do the projections add to the visual texture of the show?

LMK: The projection does three things: It presents days of the week—Wednesday, Thursday, Friday—as time ticks down and a deadline nears; it displays a series of email exchanges between characters; and it provides some neat visual effects by superimposing columns of magazine type and an edited essay onto the walls of the set. This last application was important because it was through projection that we got the essay on stage. The essay in Lifespan is at the heart of the story: what is said in the essay and what the essay means are critically important, so much so that it’s almost like another character. Its fate is the cliffhanger at the end. So figuring out how to get it on stage, blow it up and make it visible, was essential. In the end, it came down to projection.

Stay tuned for more from Broadway's first all-female design team!

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