‘Let’s pretend this is a film’ – when screen techniques tread the boards

There’s a long and storied tradition of film technology appearing on our stages, but to what end?

Eryn Jean Norvill was ready for her close-up, pursued not by a bear but by a phalanx of film cameras in STC Artistic Director Kip Williams’ five-star reimagining of The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde’s bonfire of vanity horror novel-turned-stage play. So successful was this fusion of art forms that Williams deployed the tactic again with last year’s Ewen Leslie and Matthew Backer-led Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Film crews treading the boards may be all the rage in Australia right now. But the movement that blurs the lines of film and stagecraft is not new, not even for Williams, as anyone who witnessed his intriguingly voyeuristic work on August Strindberg’s Miss Julie at MTC in 2016 would know.

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Stephen A Russell is a Melbourne-based arts writer. His writing regularly appears in Fairfax publications, SBS online, Flicks, Time Out, The Saturday Paper, The Big Issue and Metro magazine. You can hear him on Joy FM.