At the center is the notion of how we derive our sense of selves from our places of employment. “The person sitting next to you in the theater seems to be one way. . . . But to assume their personality is a set thing is dangerous. If they suddenly lost their resources or their job, the notion of who they are could change very quickly.”
Through April 28 at
Gunston Arts Center, Theater II, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington, www.americancentury.org, 703-998-4555
To call the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s nearly four-hour production of “Strange Interlude’’ (with two intermissions!) “sprawling” would be like saying Don Draper looks “kind of okay” in a suit. Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic covers all the dramatic bases: death, adultery, pregnancy, love and what happens when you uproot your family tree and unearth more dirt than you bargained for. In an STC first, the production utilizes multimedia projections. Projection Designer Aaron Rhyne discussed his two-month-long creative process.
“The projections in the show serve two purposes: First, between the scenes, they give us a sense of time in place in a very theatrical way. . . . So, for example, when Nina leaves her father’s home, goes out to find herself, and becomes a nurse, she’s on this sort of journey for her life to begin. So I’ve got some period footage of a nurse working in a military barrack in WWI. I’ve got footage of traveling in New England, getting off a train, to give the sense that she’s started her journey.
“The second purpose is as a scenic wall. We start off in a rougher, smaller bungalow in New England, and the walls are badly painted . . . and then it progresses over time to a Fifth Avenue apartment with wall decor.
“I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to find enough material, so I did consider for a while shooting all original footage and trying to make it look original. Like the Lana Del Rey music video [for “Blue Jeans”]: It’s clearly shot now but it’s an homage to another period. So I thought of doing the same . . . but it just didn’t feel like the right thing to do. It felt a lot stronger to use the real footage. It helps the audience tell what time it is. They recognize the cars.”
The show “is a lot of hours. But you get so sucked in, you forget about it.”
Through April 29 at Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW, www.shakespearetheatre.org, 202-547-1122.