Article by Mark Daniels | 04 Sep 2010
  • Orlando

Elaborate love affairs are ravishing things. Volatile, life-changing and prone to periods of self-discovery. Through them we grow increasingly comfortable in our own skin as we find ourselves projected into the heart of another. Cryptic’s production of Orlando, directed by Cathie Boyd, will premiere at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh on 30 September. If you decided not to grow old, how would you explore science and technology to enhance your lives and loves?

Cryptic have always done a nice line in geek chic, enhancing their stage productions both for audience and performer since Bonjour Tristesse in 1994. They love making ‘music to be looked at…not just listened to.’ Each production’s developments in live soundscapes, electronica, video projection, live camera feeds and 3D film culminated in the bewitching promenade performance Each… and Every Inch that marked the opening of the CCA in 2002.

Next on Cryptic’s technological journey was how interactivity could work on stage. Through software, designed by Martin Parker of the Dialogues Festival, the voice of a performer was able to control how real time visuals reacted to it. This was used to portray the chorus in the mesmerising production of Trojan Women in 2005. For the forthcoming Orlando they will use what’s called Living Canvas technology that will project exactly onto a performer’s body as they move around the stage.

Living Canvas has been developed by Dr. Martin Naef, as a collaboration with the Digital Design Studio at Glasgow School of Art. It’s a new projection system enabling performers to wear virtual costumes that adapt to the body. Cryptic are moving into a more real and immediate visual world. Orlando opens with the hero as a young man in Elizabethan England, and follows his transformations of fortune, love and gender in a century-spanning quest for ‘life and a lover’. It will be performed by Madeleine Worrall and feature live vocals and electronics by AGF and an original soundtrack by Craig Armstrong.

The celebration of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando will continue as part of the Glasgay! Festival where Rhona Cameron will be introducing a screening at the GFT of Sally Potter’s celebrated 1992 film adaptation starring Tilda Swinton on 17 October. On 3 November, the Tramway will also host Unlacing Orlando to explore the novel’s modern cultural legacies. She's lived for 400 years and hardly aged a day. Restylane?