At Arizona State University, Daniel Brodie, winner of USITT’S 2011 Rising Star Award, was a directing major, with a strong interest in computers and programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Apple Final Cut. “I realized these skills would go to waste as a director,” he recalls.
A media theory class in 2005-06, Brodie’s senior year, was the turning point. “Jake Pinholster was a guest lecturer and gave a test to see where everyone was. He liked my answers and wanted to help me in the projection design world.” Suddenly, Brodie’s new career had a kick start. Shared projects with Pinholster range from designs for David Dorfman Dance to Pee Wee Herman. “I also work extensively with puppeteer Basil Twist, so it all came together,” says Brodie about the recent Pee Wee Herman Show on Broadway.
In Arias With A Twist, Brodie’s video projections are “part of Joey Arias’ psychedelic hallucinations as a result of eating a particularly potent, and rhinestone-encrusted, mushroom. The sequence begins with a medley from The Beatles’ combining ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ and ‘Within You Without You,’” the designer explains. “We wanted to do something very colorful and kaleidoscopic for the ‘Lucy In The Sky’ section and something more Eastern and cerebral, yet still psychedelic, for the ‘Within You Without You’ section. Basil Twist and I looked through hundreds of Indian mandalas—all circular and seemingly emanating energy from the center. Each mandala slowly transforms into the next, creating a very surreal look and culminating in large waves of color and light pulsating from center stage.”
The Tenement was a collaboration between Brodie and theatre artist Jonothon Lyons, who wrote and performed in the piece, a Lecoq-inspired tale of the animalistic nature of humans and vice-versa, the personification of animals. “The show is set specifically in New York, but also set non-specifically in the “past.” “We had decided early to do all of the scenery as photo-realistic shots of mid-century New York, without limiting ourselves to a definite time,” Brodie explains. “We thought in our heads that it was somewhere in the 1930s, ‘40s, or ‘50s, and I gathered images from those time periods. Each scene is made up of many, many pieces, all cut out of old photographs and reassembled as needed.”
In assisting Zachary Borovay on Rock of Ages and Lombardi, Brodie describes the collaboration as a “co-design” process. Borovay comments, “I have had the pleasure of working with Daniel starting with some of his first professional jobs when he moved to New York. He is a true student of theatre and understands that, at its core, the primary reason we are all here is to support the actors on stage. He has that very rare combination of technical expertise and a beautiful design aesthetic and never lets one get in the way of the other.”