Technology takes viewer into character’s imagination

NANAIMO – In Other Words theatre company utilizes video in production of Muse.

A new theatre experience is transforming Nanaimo’s Centre Stage.

With innovative new video mapping, an interactive performance and social media, Barbra French, artistic director of In Other Words Theatre, takes the audience inside a character’s imagination.

She said the debut production of Muse, the story of Grace, an institutionalized and musically gifted young woman, is a visually stunning and rich experience.

With video displayed across three different surfaces on Nanaimo’s Centre Stage, projection technology creates a multidimensional set with several layers of storytelling possibilities.

“The technology allows the audience to become a witness and participant,” French said. “While the character, Grace, is being visited by doctors, nurses and friends, the audience sees inside her mind through memory and dream sequences playing on the different screens. It’s a visually rich experience.”

Pushing the boundaries of conventional theatre, French asks the audience to become intimately involved in the performance, helping to create parts of the play and co-write a song.

“It’s mesmerizing,” she said. “And tells a beautiful story of how we define a fulfilled life.”

Finding new ways of telling stories is what the theatre company prides itself for and what better way of adding to the story then through social media. There’ll be no more nosebleed seats in French’s production; instead she’s offering four cheap Tweet seats.

“Tweeters can sit in the back, with phones muted and tweet what’s happening,” French said, adding that involving social media builds another layer to the performance experience.

An alumnus of Vancouver Island University, French has founded two other theatre companies and after 10 years teaching theatre at universities in Alberta, has seen dramatic changes in stage performances and audiences.

She said people today are looking for a multi-sensory stimulating experience. They still want a good story, but they want it delivered in unique ways using different forms of language.  With Muse, French has created several.

Ladysmith actor Natalia Hautala, as Grace, performs beside Maureen Molyneaux with Kevin Jesuino as the new media designer.

Performances run Thursday through Saturday (Oct. 24-26), with the show starting at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at the door or in advance at

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