Filskit Theatre - The Feather Catcher

The Feather Catcher / Filskit Theatre

I photographed Filskit's show 'The Feather Catcher' at The Warren as part of Brighton Fringe recently. I was impressed by their very clever use of technology - and particularly the completely undisguised operator of it. The set-up is like this: one member of the team, dressed in the same scouts costume as the other performers, stands in front of the stage and points a pico projector at various screens. The projector has a few films/images (I can't remember if they were animated) of feathers in different colours. The performers on stage interact and chase the projected images of feathers around on the stage. The performer with the projector covers the beam occasionally to make the feather disappear and reappear. The fantastic thing about this is that the audience, many of which are young children, are focused entirely on the magic of the projected image, rather than the means by which it is projected.

It seems that we often go to extraordinary lengths to eliminate this technological puppeteer from the equation. It would be possible to do this show with projection mapping and hide the operator safely out of view behind a computer somewhere. It would require a lot more money, set up time, accuracy and rehearsals timings and mappings. It might also lose a lot of the immediacy of a live event, and the element of play between performers retained by such a direct mechanism of projection manipulation. It's a pretty big subject to get into here, but let's look at it from the same point of view as puppetry: hiding the puppeteers faces doesn't actually make us focus more on the puppet - it loses the focus that is directed by the gaze of those performers. In Filskit's performance, being able to see the projectionist is never distracting, but in fact it adds a level of subtle focal direction in a similar way to a puppeteer.

One of my images from the show seems to have been published in The Stage.

Leave a Reply