Issue 27

Poetry In Motion

TDC preserves the wit of Oscar Wilde.


2 August 2022

Irish playwright, poet and author Oscar Wilde and his only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray tells a provocative and dreamlike story of a young man living in a Victorian-era England who relinquishes his soul for eternal youth and beauty. Under the direction of Kip Williams, artistic director of Sydney Theatre Company (STC), actor Eryn Jean ‘EJ’ Norvill stars in no less than 26 separate roles capturing the audience’s attention throughout a two-hour performance.

To bring each role to life, Technical Direction Company (TDC) worked with the team at STC to develop an on-stage technical solution for five moving LED screens and media server technology. “The Picture of Dorian Gray uniquely uses live camera, pre-recorded and display technology as part of the stage design. The amazing stagecraft was developed by Sydney Theatre Company over a period of ten years,” said Ben Lightowlers, sound and video manager at STC.

Ranging in size from 1.5 metres square to 5 x 3 metres the high-resolution and bright LED screens fly in and off stage using a track system. The screens fly low to the stage, behind and in front of the performer to cleverly reveal the next character. The screens perform an aerial dance on stage, showing recorded and live footage from up to six cameras at various angles that also circle around Norvill on stage.

“Our relationship with TDC is an essential one. Three out of twelve shows we do will have some kind of video element and we rely on an essential relationship with TDC. We may work on a show just three months out, often with very ambitious designs from the creative design team. Alex Rendell at TDC is always helpful with any of our design variations,” added Lightowlers.

Alex Rendell, technical project manager at TDC said: “We loved working with Sydney Theatre Company from concept through to delivery. It was a fantastic project to work on and the integration of video screens is very exciting. Every single night The Picture of Dorian Gray receives a standing ovation.”

After premiering at Sydney Theatre Company in 2020 with two sold out season extensions, The Picture of Dorian Gray played Adelaide Festival in 2022, before an encore Sydney season that was once again extended twice. The Melbourne season of Sydney Theatre Company’s smash hit was presented by Michael Cassell Group and opened on 5 June at Arts Centre Melbourne’s Playhouse as part of RISING arts festival. Plans are underway to tour the production to Broadway and beyond.

In August, Williams and the award-winning creative team will return to STC’s Roslyn Packer Theatre with his next adaptation of a Victorian gothic, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Once again supported by TDC, Williams will employ the innovative “cine-theatre” live video techniques and has engaged two phenomenal actors — Ewen Leslie and Matthew Backer — to play all the characters between them.

Photo Credit: Daniel Boud / Sydney Theatre Company

Technical Direction Company:
Sydney Theatre Company:


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Issue 27