From Lorca to Chagall: Creating the animations for FEATHERS AND TEETH
March 22, 2017
Projection Designer Andrés Alcala on his inspiration, finding balance, and how he was brought to tears while creating the animations for FEATHERS AND TEETH.
NC: What was the inspiration for the animations you created for Feathers and Teeth?
AA: I was inspired by a couple of things that the playwright mentioned in the script about the animations – that they were a cross between Lorca drawings and Chagall paintings. They couldn't be more different, although both have a sense of deep sadness.
I decided to take a sketch approach – the idea that these drawings may be something that the Ellie character Ellie may had sketched in a journal or that Chris would have sketched recently. Either way, I wanted a childlike approach. Instead of hiring an artist, I found images that I thought would represent the story. Sometimes it was a sketch on a friend’s wall – literally – I would take a photo of the image on their wall, put it into my computer and then sketch my version of it with my drawing pad. It was time consuming but made for a uniform look.
NC: How do you think the animations added to the production?
AA: There were a couple of moments watching the run-throughs when I was very moved by Agatha's monologues in which the animation sequences took place. I was able to let go of the critical aspect of my work – and allowed the character to take me on her inner journey as she remembered her mother. I was moved to tears. I think the projections give the audience an intimate look at Chris’ memories of her mother.
NC: Anything particularly challenging? How did you resolve it?
AA: Some of the challenges had to do with making the segments individual clips so that the monologues were able to be in the moment. I didn't want any black or empty frames in the sequences, so I resolved it by making the ends of each segment longer than necessary. Also, (spoiler) it was a challenge to figure out exactly what Ellie should look like when she appears at the end.
Finding balance in a show like this with a lot of violence and blood was challenging. The trust I was given during the process was what allowed this to be a successful project. I am so greatly appreciative to the whole creative team’s support in feedback and direction. Kristeen, Megan and especially Dámaso have my deepest gratitude.
In addition to creating video projections for the last 10 years, Andrés is an actor and has been seen on stages around town. Read his full bio here.