My research focuses on three areas of study; 1) Swedish Theater; 2) The use of digital tools to enhance theatrical performance; and 3) The use of digital technology to improve theatrical management and communication.
My first area of study often provokes the following question from both Americans and Swedes: "Why study Swedish Theater?" My reply to this question defines the two major elements of my research in this area. Swedish Theater offers many interesting insights into the art form. In terms of architecture and technology Sweden has some of the oldest and best preserved working theaters in the world. The ability to see shows in a fully functioning 18th century space that still contains all of its original mechanics is not only inspirational for a contemporary designer, but a living lesson in theatre design and technical theatre history. Studying how theaters executed complicated motion control prior to electricity provides an understanding of the historical foundations of today's stage mechanics and an insight into the evolutionary process of those mechanics. On the other end of the architectural spectrum, Sweden's modern theaters, which are well-funded public theaters, represent some of the best conceived spaces in the world; spaces that are outfitted with and operate using innovative technologies and techniques. The study of Swedish Theater is also important from a cultural perspective. The Swedish people value the arts, specifically live theatrical performance, Swedes believe that the promotion of the arts is important, and attendance at arts events is an essential part of their daily lives. For Swedes, the mark of any great society is not how much of the world they have conquered or how much money their county has; rather, the mark of greatness is displayed by the quality of artistic expression of the culture. Live theatrical performances in Sweden have some of the highest attendance rates in the world. Sweden has one of the highest per capita rates of people in the country attending live events. In contrast, in America, theaters are struggling to get people to attend live theatrical events. Understanding what is at the heart of Sweden's cultural belief in the importance of the arts can perhaps inform our understanding of how to increase the awareness of and support for the arts in America.
In my second area of research I am concerned with how to use emerging digital technologies to enhance the theatrical experience. At its core, theater exists when one group of people attempts to communicate an idea or story (the script) to another group of people in a live or "real-time" setting. I am interested in how digital media and interactive technologies can aid in the storytelling process. This study includes the examination of new types of hardware and software that can manipulate media, as well as an analysis of how well the technology engages the two communicating parties that are part of a theatrical event, and whether or not the technologies help convey the story more effectively.
The final area of focus for my professional research studies includes the examination of the use of new technology in the day to day management and operation of production work. I am investigating new hardware and software in an attempt determine its ability to improve two aspects of production: 1) managerial efficacy for the actual design and construction processes for a production; and 2) collaborative communication among all the departments and individuals engaged in the creative process of producing a theatrical event. I am constantly testing new software and hardware in an attempt to improve the management process, which in turn enhances my ability to communicate with the director, the other designers and production partners and the actors. My goal is to encourage open dialogue about the production, identify any potential problems or needed changes, and make corrections as quickly as possible.
In addition to these three focused areas of research I continually work to stay abreast of current and new technology, techniques, and materials related to my field in order to provide creative solutions to the design challenges presented in my execution of the lighting, scenery, sound, props, painting, projections, effects, rigging, and management of each production on which I work. I am an active member in my professional organizations, network with and learn from some of the leading educators and designers working today, and share my own work and research through national conference presentations. I also stay in touch with the professional theatre world through my work as a design consultant for professional and regional theatre spaces. My past and present work constantly informs my future efforts, and all areas of my research influence my work as a theater artist. Finally, I remain aware that to be an effective theater artist one must closely observe life, all aspects of life and not just theater or technology. The successful theater artist strives to provide an unique and focused interpretation of those life observations in his/her work.
Click on a topic on the right under "Quick LInks:" to find out more information about my research.