The countdown to Safe House is on! The Brighton Festival is hosting the premiere of Metro Boulot Dodo and Wired Aerial Company latest large-scale outdoor theatre spectacular, featuring animation and projection mapping from Draw & Code. Hove Park will be the setting for tonight’s performance which will see actors flying through the air, interacting with the animated backdrops that will bring the house-shaped set to life.
Safe House is centred around a life-size house that provides the setting for an adventure experienced through the eyes of each generation of the home’s inhabitants. The performance space will be brought to life by our animated visuals which we apply using projection mapping – a technique that allows us to display animation on all surfaces of the building, no matter their scale, shape or the angle they are relative to each other.
However, unlike conventional projection mapping, the building’s form and details do not dictate all of the animation in Safe House. Instead, we use the building as a canvas on which to paint interactive settings that will see the actors taken to new places.
Andy and Heidi are representing Draw & Code in brilliant Brighton as they oversee the last minute animation preparations. At this point they can relax, enjoy a barbecue in Hove Park and finally catch their breath after three days on site which followed an intense few weeks of rehearsals.
For the past month the production has been coming together in, Metro Boulot Dodo’s stomping ground. The stunning, if a little eerie, disused Haymarket Theatre was our makeshift home as the towering set was built and the incredible athletes of Wired Aerial Company started to commit the choreography to their muscle memories. The dedication and ability of the performers has been genuinely humbling; they are the superheroes of the theatre world as they scale buildings in a single bound and work tirelessly to take a complex series of stomach-churning moves into a natural, rhythmic exercise.
Every second of the 45 minute play features intricate animations from the ‘draw’ side of Draw & Code. While Emily, Mike and Heidi have been heavily involved in producing both 2D and 3D animation, it is our artistic director Andy Cooper who has bore the brunt of piecing it all together and liaising with the brains behind Safe House. As such, he has seen very little of home as he was on site during rehearsals.
Andy was last seen wobbling into Lime Street station carrying an entire iMac under his arm because he thought that a laptop ‘may not be enough’! Upon arrival in Leicester he found a freezing theatre that before heaters arrived to ease the chill. The aerialists were seasoned pros though, keeping warm between rehearsals with cups of tea and never letting anything stand in their way.
Once the house rigging was ready, the cast and crew started in earnest; it has been a thrill to see the show advance each day since then. Ironically though, considering the homely theme of the show, most of the cast and crew are living away for prolonged periods. After Safe House debuts in Hove Park tonight, it will be touring the country as part of various festivals from the south coast all the way to the Lake District.
As Andy and Heidi take in the sunshine there is now no more that Draw & Code can do. “We actually have nothing to do” Andy told me in relieved tones as he winds down and prepares to enjoy the show that he’s played such a major part of. Meanwhile the work will continue for Metro Boulot Dodo and Wired Aerial Company as they take Safe House on tour. If it comes to your town make sure you catch what promises to be one of the highlights of a summer of cultural festivals.