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Carol Caldwell-Edmonds on “The Guinevere Project: Beginning”

Carol Caldwell-Edmonds is the newest recipient of the Flynn’s Vermont Artists’ Space Grant. For more information about the grant, click here.

My husband Gary and I were at the Flynn by 7:10 am. That is an early start for a Sunday, even by our standards. Today, along with Gary, my son Ben, and Andy Pearson, I started work on the Guinevere Project in the Hoehl Studio after receiving the Spring 2012 Flynn VT Artist’s Space Grant. We arrived with a computer, video equipment, and a very large piece of plexiglass. The morning was spent experimenting with images reflected onto the performance space. The overall goal is to juxtapose theater’s virtual world, specifically the performance space, with a game world. The merging of those worlds is central to the story behind the Guinevere Project. The very first step was to test some ideas and watch the early 3D model of what will be a game-like character, appear for us life size. The reflected image idea we are using is from the nineteenth century, known as “Pepper’s Ghost,” but modified to suit a performance space that is on the same floor level as the audience.

I must mention special thanks to Andy Pearson of CW StageWorks, who provided equipment and expert advice on what is practically feasible in that space for lighting, projection, and set construction. Andy met us at that early hour, and with his help, we were able to arrive at an option for projecting the images well before lunch. That left time to begin to measure out the space, consider what other materials would be needed, and try out lighting ideas. Then we had fun trying to manipulate images, light, fabric, and (plexi)glass. We video recorded effects to take back to the animation team. They need to see what their 3D images look like when projected onto a set. Some images looked as I expected, and others would need modifications to be bright enough to be seen.

I also want to add a word of thanks to my husband Gary and son Ben for their assistance in the afternoon hours. Together we seem to manage to do whatever it takes to bring ideas into concrete existence. In fact, my personal “quest for Guinevere” inspired the itinerary for a family vacation back in 2005. My family took a few friends along on a trip, visiting places in Scotland associated with the historical Guinevere. After we returned, I wrote a few songs, and the idea for a theater piece began to take hold.

I have thought about using game characters–virtual beings, so to speak–on stage with real actors since my children were performing in the Very Merry Theater children’s camps a decade ago. Raising two children in the video-game age, I have come to believe that video game technology has an ability to transform perception. People live alternate lives through their game characters, making video games incredibly popular. The same can be said about characters in plays. As I researched Guinevere’s story, I discovered the books written by Vermont native, Norma Lorre Goodrich. Her book, “Guinevere”* has become the basis for my story. I was intrigued by the historical Guinevere: not a medieval adulteress, but an ancient Queen and High Priestess of the Dead–a person who could pass between worlds. Passages and other worlds are what game worlds are made of. Slowly, the idea of a story about a game designer, who is working on a game, “Quest for Guinevere” emerged. Now, it is the content for the project developing in the FlynnSpace over the next 10 weeks. On June 24, we will share our work in progress.

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