WorldStage Helps Projection Designer Aaron Rhyne Find Solutions for "Bootycandy" Off Broadway

"Bootycandy," written and directed by Robert O'Hara, has kicked off the season at New York City's Playwrights Horizons with an extended run and great notices from The New York Times, which called the play "smart and provocative." WorldStage provided the projection and playback system for the production.
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"Bootycandy," written and directed by Robert O'Hara, has kicked off the season at New York City's Playwrights Horizons with an extended run and great notices from The New York Times, which called the play "smart and provocative."  WorldStage provided the projection and playback system for the production. 

"Bootycandy" follows the life of Sutter, a black gay man, in a series of scenes that vary in style.  A single actor, Phillip James Brannon, plays Sutter as a boy, teen and man growing up and embracing his identity.

"The play shows very specific slices of life of the characters experiences growing up and coming to terms with their identity," says projection designer Aaron Rhyne.  "The set design is a turntable and depicts different locations: a bedroom, a bar, a church.  Robert O'Hara did previous productions of the play without projections and says he always felt something was missing.  The outside world was not showcased."

So, for the Playwrights Horizons' production, Rhyne has designed projections that act as a window on the larger world.  Using a combination of still images, moving video and title animations that appear as if Sutter was writing them out for the audience, Rhyne has opened up the stage sets to show suburban America, a gospel choir's intense performance, the New York City bar scene and more.

He sought the help of WorldStage to make Sutter's larger world a reality.  "I work with WorldStage all the time - almost exclusively," says Rhyne.  "They support a show I have on Broadway, 'A Gentleman's Guide to Love & Murder,' and several touring shows of mine."

The video package provided by WorldStage for Bootycandy is comprised of two Christie HD 14K DLP projectors, a fully redundant two-channel Dataton WATCHOUT system, a fiber-based signal distribution package, and a power distribution package. 

Rhyne specified WATCHOUT as the server that best matched the needs of the production.  "It's the system most often used on Broadway," he notes.  "It's solid and user friendly and staff is knowledgeable about it and can problem solve if needed.  For 'Bootycandy' I have a main system and a back up.  Theaters always like it when you have a safety net."

"We wanted the projection screen to disappear when not in use so we chose a black commando cloth, which is hard to get projections to read on.  A lot of vendors would have pushed away from this idea, but WorldStage always comes up with a solution.  That's a trait they bring to all productions: figuring out how to do what's difficult," Rhyne says.

WorldStage suggested a pair of Christie HD 14K projectors for their brightness, quiet operation, and small footprint. Using two 14Ks converged "gives us more brightness so images pop on the dark surface," he reports.  "And with two projectors we have a built-in back up."

Rhyne believes "we've definitely been able to bring a lot more of a visual statement to this production than to past productions of 'Bootycandy.'  Robert O'Hara and the whole team are very excited about adding projections.

"I always like to challenge the notion of what projection design can do," he adds.  "The people at WorldStage love this challenge, too."

Lars Pedersen was the WorldStage account executive for "Bootycandy."

WorldStage Inc., the company created by the merger of Scharff Weisberg Inc and Video Applications Inc, continues a thirty-year legacy of providing clients the widest variety of entertainment technology coupled with conscientious and imaginative engineering services. WorldStage provides audio, video and lighting equipment and services to the event, theatrical, broadcast and brand experience markets nationally and internationally. 

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