We’re staging Ibsen’s epic masterpiece in a multi-space performance on the UC Santa Cruz campus, with Theater Arts graduate and undergraduates, Digital Arts and New Media MFA students, and an international cast of professional actors, designers, and dramaturgs.
Our collaborative production of Peer Gynt combines traditional theater with new media arts to bring 21st-century audiences this timeless play that questions—from a dizzying array of angles—the nature of the self.
Drawing on the play’s roots in medieval theater, our production will move spectators physically through different spaces, following Peer as he roams the world. Audiences will begin with the Norway scenes (Acts 1-3) in the Experimental Theater. Then we move to the Digital Arts Resource Center to experience installations, scenes, and soundscapes that bring to life Acts IV and V: Peer’s adventures, his crises, and his reckoning.
Audience members can engage with the event at their own pace. Maps, mushrooms, and music will guide you through the adventure.
We’re taking episodes usually cut (due to the difficulty in staging) – such as a shipwreck scene – and bringing them to life in rooms crafted from video, digital animation, and non-human performers.
We’re interspersing these digital tableaux vivants with scenes of utmost simplicity, such as a single actor peeling an onion in an empty room. We’ll materialize overlapping layers and stages of life -the world of the dream, the tall tale, the adventurer, the vulnerable boy, the jaded man, the sweep of the fjords, the claustrophobia of the bog.
Designers at UCSC began digging into the play in March 2012, conceptualizing the worlds of this play. Collages, drawings, videos, photos, sound, and shadow puppets are sprouting like mushrooms, as a vision develops that is part folklore, part 21st century; part nightmare, part fantasy. All of it is Gyntiana.