P. Aaron Kelsey, at Madison Consolidated High School, used an LED wall in the production of 9 to 5 to replace their need for a backdrop and add special elements to the show, like the video from Dolly Parton!
Aaron explains why digital scenery was the best option for his show and how he incorporated it into the vision of his production: "The production has so many locations, there is no way we could have rented or hung that many drops to represent the various locations as effectively as the digital drops. My favorite part is the ease of use and the artistic quality of the digital elements. I think when used together with physical sets you are giving your audience the most professional look possible. Our patrons have really been impressed with our new technology, the parents are having to build fewer set elements, and the tech kids love having another hand in the performances."
System Integration: During our auditorium renovations, we used a local church with a digital screen backdrop. We started using that instead of painted drops on their thrust stage, with “The Addams Family”. We have used digital backdrops ever since for straight plays and musicals. We have used them as still images and animated, usually with physical set units in front of the images when required (stairs, tables, fireplaces, etc.) We are now back in our own facility with a new LED digital screen.
Set design with digital scenery: I really try to treat the digital drops just as a painted drop. They don’t replace the entire physical set and shouldn’t with most shows. They integrate well with furniture, landscape elements, etc. The use of the drops frees up space on our stage, takes much less time installing, and provides ENDLESS locations and looks available.
Lighting with digital scenery: My student techs really worked hard to match the illustrated lighting with the physical lighting in our theatre. The looks have always been spot on!
[Digital Scenery] can offer so much life to the show, especially the animated drops. We can effectively represent so many more locations with the digital drops and for the price of one or two rented drops.
Aaron lives in Madison, Indiana with his wife Jamie, and their 7 children. A graduate from Indiana University, Bloomington, he has taught Visual Arts and Theatre at Madison Consolidated High School for nineteen years. He has directed over 65 different plays and musicals at MCHS and is enjoying a recent renovation of the school’s theatre spaces.