Video Projections in Live Theatre

Local video artist, and owner of Chickweed Arts, Jamie Griffiths, designed and implemented the video projections for the set design of the play Kiviuq Returns by Qaggiavuut Society, that is now touring Canada and Internationally. Kiviuq Returns originally premiered at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in July 2017, and has since toured 8 Nunavut communities, as well as the National Theatre of Greenland (Sept 2018) in Nuuk and other southern venues. Kiviuq Returns is returning to Ontario in January 2019 for an extended run at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto.

I was asked to come up with a cutting edge design that would work effectively on an international stage as well as in a Nunavut school gym.  I chose to work with multiple video projection scrims that themselves become props onstage, handled and manipulated by the actors. Covered in black sharkstooth scrim, the actors conjure up oceans, arrive in new lands, listen to the stories of elders, cook meat and change the mood onstage. The screens are freestanding on the floor so they don’t need to be hung and the size can be adapted to any size of stage. Two video projectors on lightweight 12ft stands deliver the imagery from a laptop, that also delivers the sound for the play. The control software is a well known theatre tool called QLab and the video mapping software is Isadora by Troikatronix.

One of the things I am most proud of though, about this show, is that the 18 month life cycle for building and rehearsing the design with multiple presentations of the play, allowed me to train an assistant designer, Rico Manitok (Rankin Inlet), who learned to set up and troubleshoot the digital design of the play, and now works as a freelance Video Projectionist and Assistant Technical Director, on tour for Qaggiavuut, as well as with Chickweed Arts.    ~Jamie Griffiths, Scenographer/Projection Designer, Kiviuq Returns

Rico Manitok setting up scrims at the school performance in Clyde River Nov 2017

Rico Manitok running digital stage control at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, July 2017

Sea Woman (Christine Tootoo) and Seal (Avery Keenainak)

Orphan transforms to a seal (Avery Keenainak)

Kiviuq inside the Animal Den. (L to R) Natar Ungalaq, Charlotte Qamaniq, Christine Tootoo, Keenan Carpenter, Avery Keenainak, Abraham Eetak

Kiviuq calls for Nanuk to help escape from the Bee Woman. (L to R) Christine Tootoo, Natar Unagalaq, Avery Keenainak

Fox-Woman watches Kiviuq from behind a sealskin. (Avery Keenainak)

Bee Woman prepares a human pelt (Charlotte Qamaniq)

Elder, Miriam Aglukark (Gjoa Haven) tells the Kiviuq Fox story, surrounded by Arctic Tundra