XL Video is supplying projection for Canadian filmmaker Atom Ergoyan’s critically acclaimed stage production of Samuel Beckett’s Eh Joe, originally written for television in 1965 and never performed onstage before.
The production, originally commissioned by The Gate Theatre, Dublin and The Barbican, London, enjoyed short runs at both venues. It is currently in London's West End at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a three week twice-nightly run.
The compelling 25-minute drama features actor Michael Gambon sitting alone on a bed motionless and silent, behind a gauze, while an offstage camera trained on this face, very, very slowly zooms in to a close up shot over the duration of the work, capturing all the nuances of his expression.
A disembodied female voice-over reminds Joe of a past love affair that ended in tragedy when he drove the woman to suicide.
The image of Gambon’s face is projected stage left onto a gauze covering the stage mouth, and fills nearly the entire proscenium space. Collaborating with the surrounding darkness, this helps create the knife-edge intensity as the whole theatre experiences Joe’s haunted conscience.
XL’s performing arts specialist Malcolm Mellows was asked to supply the projection by production manager Dominic Frazer, with whom XL has recently worked at The Old Vic, and on Richard II and Sunday In the Park With George. He says “I’m honoured to be involved in such a high profile production of this caliber.”XL Supplied two Barco SLM G5 projectors for the occasion which are rigged onto the second floor balcony and were installed by XL’s Duncan Mclean and Peter Edwards. The challenge for XL was that as the performance is so quiet with lots of time and silences required to accentuate the facial and body expressiveness of Gambon, so a quiet running projection solution was essential, and one whereby a complete blackout without a noise was achieved. Mellows made the choice of projector and specified an external DMX shutter for these reasons. The camera technology (Canon X1) was supplied through XL Video with modifications made and supplied by The Gate Theatre, using their customized slow zoom gearing system, proven during the Dublin run of Eh Joe. XL Video also provided all signal, control and power cable for the video installation at the Duke Of York’s.